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Author: Subject: Israeli matters, internally & externally
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[*] posted on 22-6-2017 at 01:10 PM
Israeli matters, internally & externally


Israeli commanders reveal plans for mass evacuation of Lebanese civilians in next war

By: Barbara Opall-Rome, June 21, 2017



HERZLIYA, Israel — The next war in Lebanon will be so powerfully punishing — with thousands of targets struck in the first day of an attack — that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians will have to leave their homes or risk falling victim to “collateral damage,” according to top Israeli military commanders here.

“I have good news for the people of Lebanon,” Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the commander of Israel's Air Force, told participants at the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday. “Since Hezbollah has decided to be in urban areas, in those closed apartments where they launch rockets, if the people of Lebanon are to leave those houses before an event begins, they will not be in harm’s way.

"I am certain that if war breaks out on the northern front, we need to take strong action from the word 'go.' ”

According to Eshel, Israeli air power — both qualitatively and quantitatively — “will surprise our rivals in ways they can’t even perceive.” He noted, presumably in reference to Israel’s war in Gaza during the summer of 2014, that the Israeli Air Force “has had [the] opportunity to test ourselves, so what I’m saying is not just a theory.”

Eshel noted that the lethality of Israeli air power, despite “unprecedented precision,” has “some potential to damage those who are uninvolved,” which presents limitations to Israeli war planners.

“This limitation, too, is taken into consideration. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but we are trying to limit this as much as possible. Morally speaking, we want to make that collateral damage as little as possible. Not zero. I don’t want to delude myself. But as little as possible.”

Eshel declined to explain how Lebanese civilians would leave their homes, where they would go or who would be responsible for the evacuation. But Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s top military officer, indicated that evacuations would be done by Israel.

In an address the previous evening to the same Herzliya gathering, Eisenkot, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, spoke about “hundreds of thousands of civilians” who would need to be evacuated in Israel’s next war with the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militant organization.

“The moment we know the enemy goes into urban terrain, it becomes a matter of morals and values. There are hundreds of thousands in the civilian population. We’ll need to evacuate them … and we’ll have to do that as quickly as possible. We need to preserve legitimacy while fighting,” Eisenkot said.

Israel’s top military officer declined to say how such an evacuation would be carried out without civilian consent or how Israel could possibly venture such an undertaking without ruining the element of a surprise attack and putting large numbers of Israeli forces in danger.

He noted, however, that the Air Force is capable of striking “thousands of targets a day should we be required to do so.”

Eisenkot, a former commander of Northern Command with territorial responsibility for Lebanon and Syria, served as the IDF’s director of operations during Israel’s last war in Lebanon in 2006. In the 11 years since that war, he said, Israeli intelligence, air power and ground maneuvering capabilities have improved tremendously as a result of significant investment and training. 

The IDF chief charged Hezbollah with “crudely violating” United Nations Resolution 1701, which mandated demilitarization of the area beyond Israel’s northern border, and claimed 240 villages and towns in south Lebanon would be legitimate targets in the next war. “We have very good intelligence, and we know them well. Hezbollah has 240 villages and towns where almost every third or fourth house has some Hezbollah force in it.”

Additionally, he said, Hezbollah has built up “thousands of underground locations” and “many tens of thousands of rockets and other capabilities,” most of which has been provided by Iran.

According to Eisenkot, Hezbollah is now heavily immersed in fighting in Syria alongside Russia on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. This accruing military experience is something Israel “cannot ignore,” he said. At the same time, Hezbollah has lost some 1,800 combatants over the last three years and suffered some 8,000 wounded. 

The IDF chief acknowledged that Israel has made “great efforts” to stop Iranian- or Syrian-supplied arms from reaching Hezbollah, actions that until recently have been neither confirmed nor denied by Israeli officials. “Preventing weapons from reaching the hands of Hezbollah is a top priority for the IDF,” he said.

He also asserted that Hezbollah was taking possession of Russian weaponry without authorization. “Russian weapons are getting into their hands under the noses of the Russians without their approval,” Eisenkot said.
 
In his June 21 address, Eshel, the Air Force commander, said that since the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli air power has improved to the point that it will now take the service only 40 to 60 hours to strike the number of targets attacked during the entire 34-day war 11 years ago. “I’m saying that quantitatively speaking we have doubled or quadrupled [the ability to generate and attack targets].” 

Nevertheless, Eshel acknowledged that in the next Lebanon war — due to Hezbollah’s acquisition of advanced capabilities — Israel should expect a worse-case scenario where it sustains fire on some of its air bases and/or airborne air assets. But, he insisted, “these two factors — fire on Air Force bases and threats on aircraft … cannot stop our Air Force.

“This huge machine that is the sum of surprise, quality and quantity will work. Don’t misunderstand me. There is no magic solution or spell. But it is a potent power and a lot more than anyone can estimate.”

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[*] posted on 4-7-2017 at 02:05 PM


Netanyahu on Israel: A 'mighty aircraft carrier' of the US

By: Barbara Opall-Rome, July 3, 2017

TEL AVIV – In a visit Monday to the USS George H.W. Bush – docked outside of Haifa after five months of combat against the Islamic State -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  likened the state of Israel to a “mighty aircraft carrier” of the United States.

Speaking to reporters on the Nimitz-class carrier, Netanyahu hailed ongoing U.S.-led coalition operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and indicated that Israel, too, is contributing to the fight against a common enemy.

 “We are both peace loving people, while we recognize that sometimes you need to fight those enemies of peace, those that want to chop the head off our common societies… This is what we do together,” Netanyahu said.

“We are here on a mighty aircraft carrier of the United States and a few miles from here, there is another mighty aircraft carrier of our common civilization – it’s called the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

U.S. Navy Captain William Pennington, commanding officer of the USS George H.W. Bush, cited U.S.-Israeli intelligence sharing and other forms of strategic cooperation going back years. “We are very tightly linked with our colleagues and partners and allies from the Israel Defense Forces and have been for many, many years,” he said.

He added, “There is a tremendous network of shared intelligence. As you are aware, the airspace in this region is very, very busy with lots of different actors, so the need to deconflict that and make sure that everyone understands their mission is very, very important.”

Commander James McCall, head of the carrier’s air wing, said his forces have conducted about 1,600 sorties over the five-month deployment; an average of 20 to 25 “events” each day.

“This aircraft carrier and this air wing have been a large part of the war against ISIS in the last five months. We have conducted sustained operations as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, countering ISIS in both Iraq and Syria,” said McCall.

According to the air wing commander, whose forces downed a Syrian Su-22 fighter bomber last month, which had been operating perilously close to U.S.-backed forces, there is “a lot of tension” between rebel groups and pro-regime forces in parts of Syria.

He insisted that the Syrian fighter bomber ignored U.S. warnings, and that the shoot-down was executed according to procedure in defense of U.S. and friendly forces. “The Air Force warned the Syrian aircraft they were approaching coalition friendlies and they ignored the warning and even dropped bombs on the friendlies,” McCall said.

As for progress in retaking Mosul in Iraq and Raqa’a in Syria, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State, McCall offered this assessment: “We are collapsing in on ISIS… What I have seen over the last five months personally is those lines have moved. Coalition forces have made great gains to push those terrorist elements out.”

Meanwhile, in a tour along Israel’s northern border with Syria, Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Syrian regime forces fighting rebels in and around the town of Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights that Israel would not tolerate spillover fire into its territory.

Liberman insisted that Israel does not favor any particular side in the ongoing civil war, but will continue to target Syrian regime assets in response to cross-border fire originating from Syrian territory.

“The warfare and events in the area of Quneitra are not connected to us. We are not looking for excuses to get involved in this fight. We will not take part in this civil war on behalf of any side… Neither side are our friends. Just the opposite. But what is for certain, we will not tolerate any violation of Israeli sovereignty,” Liberman said.

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[*] posted on 25-7-2017 at 12:48 PM


Seven nations commit to Israel's Blue Flag exercise

24 July, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Arie Egozi Tel Aviv

Seven foreign air forces have so far confirmed their participation in the "Blue Flag" exercise to be held in Israel during November.

According to the commander of the Israeli air force's Uvda air base, identified only as Col I, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Poland and the USA will take part in the exercise; making it the largest multinational event to be staged in the country.

During the two-week exercise, 70 fighter aircraft will train together with the Israeli air force's Lockheed Martin F-16C-equipped "Red Squadron", based at Uvda. Also dubbed Flying Dragon, the aggressor unit is used during training by all combat squadrons in Israel.

Four foreign air forces were involved in Israel's last Blue Flag exercise.

Col I says the increased participation reflects the fact that "different air forces understand their operational need to be capable of co-operating with air forces from different parts of the world. We are preparing a long list of combat scenarios based on the Israeli air force's combat experience."
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[*] posted on 11-8-2017 at 11:11 AM


Israeli Army Reveals Massive Barrier Being Built to Stop Hamas' Gaza terror tunnels.

Head of Southern Command says massive project which includes underwater barrier is aimed at detecting, destroying tunnels and will be completed regardless of Hamas actions

Gili Cohen Aug 10, 2017 7:27 PM


Palestinian fighters from the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, are seen inside an underground tunnel in Gaza August 18, 2014.
REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Analysis: A new underground reality is taking shape along the Gaza-Israel border

It's Israel's interest to provide power to Gaza, but not while Hamas digs terror tunnels, Israeli army chief says

Hamas preparing buffer zone along Gaza-Egypt border

The Israel Defense Forces is tackling the threat posed by tunnels that Hamas builds from Gaza into Israel by constructing a massive barrier. The project, estimated to cost 3 billion shekels ($833 million), will include a concrete wall fitted with sensors and reaching dozens of meters deep into the ground and standing six meters high from ground level.  

Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir told reporters on Wednesday that building the barrier could cause an escalation, but said the army will continue building the barrier even if Hamas targets the work there.

“I think the other side will have to reevaluate the situation in view of the barrier’s construction,” he said. “If Hamas chooses to go to war over the barrier, it will be a worthy reason (for the IDF) to go to war over – but the barrier will be built.”

In recent months Israel has set up concrete factories on the Gaza border, brought foreign laborers and contracted companies to flatten the area around the border and build sand mounds to protect the workers.

Currently work is in progress at six points along the border, with workers from Spain and Moldova, African asylum-seekers and Israelis. Each month another point is added. By October some 1,000 workers will be working on the project at 40 sites 24 hours a day except Saturday, IDF sources said.

The IDF is moving the entire border area a few hundred meters east, into Israeli territory. The current fence will be strengthened and improved, and to its east a six-meter-tall metal wall will be built. Between the old and new walls several mounds of earth will be built, to enable tank deployment and patrol roads both east and west of the barrier. The roads will enable troop movements and barrier maintenance.

The defense establishment hopes the underground concrete barrier will eliminate the threat posed by Hamas tunnels entering Israel. Sensors installed inside the barrier will sound an alarm if anyone approaches it and warn Israel of any future tunnel digging.

The barrier’s construction is also aimed at destroying the existing tunnels near the border. The army is using a huge drilling machine that crushes anything in its path to a considerable depth. This is expected to destroy the tunnels currently crossing the border from Gaza to Israel.

After that, the drilled area will be filled with bentonite, a mineral that turns viscous and adhesive in contact with water. If the drilling machine reaches a tunnel, the mineral will spread along it and the IDF will know that a tunnel has been located.

Then come the iron cages

Afterward large iron cages containing water-resistant pipes with sensors will be inserted into the ground as foundations. Once the underground barrier is built, a six-meter-high metal wall will be built on top of it to prevent anyone from crossing the border above the ground.

The IDF administration in charge of the border area says the cost of a kilometer of the underground barrier is estimated at 40 million shekels, while the cost of a kilometer of metal barrier is estimated at about 1.5 million shekels.

A number of civilian construction companies have won the Defense Ministry’s bid to take part in the border project, which also includes situation rooms to monitor the area and firing positions.

In addition, the IDF is planning to build an underwater barrier and a breakwater a few kilometers long in the sea on the Gaza border, IDF sources said.

Zamir said the border barrier could lead to escalation, but that the Southern Command intends to keep the calm in the region while completing the barrier’s construction.

Zamir showed reporters pictures of sites in Gaza, some of them civilian, which Hamas is believed to be using as tunnel shafts.

He warned that any civilian who allows terror organizations to use his property for military purposes is risking his life, his family’s life and his property. For example, he showed a house in the Beit Lahiya area, which the army says has an entrance to an underground tunnel that is also connected to a mosque. Another structure, near the Shati refugee camp, has an entrance to a network of tunnels.

“Great effort is being made to locate Hamas structures used for military activity to serve us in the next fighting round,” Zamir said. “From our point of view, at a time of emergency, these houses will become targets. Anyone who happens to be in a house that has an underground infrastructure is putting his life in danger. We aim to turn it into a death trap,” he said.

“If Hamas thinks it has immunity by building a military infrastructure in a civilian environment – it’s wrong,” he said.
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[*] posted on 11-8-2017 at 12:25 PM


Israel girds for next round of battle in Gaza Strip

By: Barbara Opall-Rome   14 hours ago


The commander of the Israel Defense Forces' Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, second from right, insists intel released by the country proves “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.” (Israel Defense Forces)

TEL AVIV, Israel ― Israel on Thursday released detailed intelligence on how Hamas is using newly constructed residential buildings in the coastal strip to disguise the expansion of underground tunnels and command centers from which the Jewish state says the group plans to wage urban war against it.

Israel released the intel to make its case for what it insists is an unwanted, yet potentially necessary new round of combat in Gaza.

Briefing reporters here, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, described two homes carefully mapped out by military intelligence ― complete with geolocation target coordinates ― that he insists prove “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.”

During the highly unusual briefing aimed at bolstering Israel’s case should it need to destroy the structures built in heavily populated residential neighborhoods, Zamir insisted Israel possesses “many more such targets beyond what we’re showing you.”

He repeatedly referred to the structures ― one a six-story building and private parking lot with access to a tunnel network, and the other a family home with an entrance to a tunnel that connects to a nearby mosque ― as legitimate targets. “I say these are legitimate military targets, and whoever is endangering himself and his family needs to hold Hamas responsible for what happens,” he said.

The IDF commander said Israel is “fully aware” of the humanitarian distress to the nearly 2 million residents of Gaza, many of whom are subsisting at below poverty levels with a mere four hours of electricity each day. If Israel has to act, Zamir said, it will do so with technology, tactics and procedures aimed at minimizing the so-called collateral damage to uninvolved civilians.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that civilians would be harmed, which is exactly what Hamas and other Gaza-based groups are counting on “in order to try to damage Israel’s legitimacy.”

“Their concept of operation is to divert materials that were intended for civilian improvements for their own military purposes,” Zamir said. ”It validates our position that all responsibility for humanitarian conditions and harm to civilians must rest on the shoulders of Hamas.

“A large part of international humanitarian aid is going to terror purposes. This reality is extremely flammable … and could drag us into another round.”

According to the IDF commander, Israeli intelligence assessments show deterrence since the summer 2014 Gaza War is still holding, yet the “more or less stable” situation on the ground can “quickly deteriorate” and spiral into conflict. “We hope the relative quiet will be preserved. But we are on high readiness and prepared to get into another round if needed,” Zamir said.

He cited Israel’s ongoing work on a new security barrier to be built along Israel’s entire border with Gaza as a possible trigger for Hamas to initiate escalation. Nevertheless, he insisted work on the barrier ― which involves a concrete wall deep underground, along with a smart, sensor-fused wall to extend high above ground ― is scheduled for completion within two years.

“This barrier is a strategic necessity for the state of Israel to prevent terrorist infiltrations. And in the event there are attack tunnels, we will know how to locate them and neutralize them,” Zamir said. “We really hope they [Hamas] won’t challenge us in this regard.”

Israel fought a 51-day war with Hamas that ended in mid-August 2014, in large part to destroy dozens of tunnels that the country said were built for purposes of attacking the it or infiltrating its territory.

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[*] posted on 23-8-2017 at 07:45 PM


New appointments prompt seven Turkish generals, admirals to request retirement

Kerry Herschelman - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

22 August 2017

The Turkish government’s latest round of appointments to various command positions in a new decree on 20 August have caused further discontent within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

The Turkish Ministry of Defence (MoD) disclosed in a statement on 22 August that seven unnamed generals and admirals requested voluntary retirement from the TSK prior to the latest appointments on 20 August.

“Their retirement applications were approved on 18 August,” it said.

The Hürriyet Daily , meanwhile, reported on 22 August that these admirals and generals would be removed from their positions if they did not request voluntary retirement.

The latest appointments to the TSK follow the 2 August meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS), during which three service commanders were replaced.

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[*] posted on 5-9-2017 at 02:11 PM


Israeli Police Make Six Arrests Over Thyssenkrupp 'Submarine Affair'

(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued Sept 03, 2017)

Testimony from the former representative of German firm ThyssenKrupp has led to arrests in Israel over corruption allegations. Germany said it would not sign off on the deal until the investigation was complete.

Israeli police arrested six people on Sunday amid a widening corruption probe into the deals for submarines and naval vessels agreed between the government and German industrial giant ThyssenKrupp.

In a statement, police said the six suspects were detained on suspicion of "economic and integrity offenses."

Authorities did not name those in detention, but the Haaretz newspaper reported that the group included "a former senior official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau" as well as several high-ranking naval officers.

In July, Thyssenkrupp issued a statement saying it had found no evidence of corruption in its handling of the $2 billion (1.69 billion euro) contract to sell submarines and naval patrol craft to Israel. "Based on the investigative measures we were able to carry out, we found no concrete indications of corruption - neither with regard to submarine projects, nor in connection with the procurement of corvettes," it said, adding the investigation results were "provisional."

Netanyahu's relative and family lawyer

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's relative and family lawyer, David Shimron, was cited in reports of the case when retired naval captain Michael Ganor, ThyssenKrupp's former representative in Israel, claimed he was due to earn large amounts of money from the agreement to buy three submarines from Germany.

Germany then said it would not sign off on the arms deal, originally agreed in October 2016, until the investigation into possible corruption was complete. The signing of a memorandum of understanding on the German sale of the three submarines to Israel was postponed in July.

According to television reports in July, Ganor told police that Shimron's commission from the deal between the Israeli state and ThyssenKrupp was to be 20 percent of Ganor's own fee from the German company for brokering it.

The scandal has also touched Avriel Bar-Yosef, a former deputy head of the National Security Council and Eliezer Marom, the former commander of the Israeli Navy. The pair, along with Shimron, have denied any wrongdoing.

ThyssenKrupp rep and his lawyer

Ganor signed a state’s witness arrangement with Israel’s justice ministry in July. In exchange for a reduced sentence of a year in prison and a $2.8 million fine, he agreed to disclose everything he knew.

Netanyahu's lawyer Shimron also acted for Ganor and was allegedly involved in many of his business dealings. Netanyahu reportedly suggested more submarines be bought than the defense chiefs had recommended, but he has denied knowing about his lawyer’s involvement in the arms deals.

The Israeli Justice Ministry has said that Prime Minister Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.

According to its website: "Virtually no shipyard the world over has more experience in the design and construction of non-nuclear submarines than ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems with its Operating Unit Submarines (Kiel). The Operating Unit is a partner of the German Navy and has also delivered submarines for coastal and blue water deployment to the navies of 19 other countries."

-ends-
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[*] posted on 19-9-2017 at 02:57 PM


US breaks ground for new permanent base in Israel

By: Barbara Opall-Rome   10 hours ago


Israel Air Force Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the IDF's air defense commander, left, with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Gronski at the ground-breaking ceremony for the new permanent U.S. Army base in Israel. (Israel Defense Forces)

TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. and Israeli officers broke ground in Israel on Monday for a permanent U.S. Army base that will house dozens of U.S. soldiers, operating under the American flag, and charged with the mission of defending against rocket and missile attack.  

The American base, officers in Israel say, will be an independent facility co-located at the Israel Defense Forces Air Defense School in southern Israel, near the desert capital of Beersheba.

Once completed, the base will house U.S. operational systems to identify and intercept a spectrum of aerial threats, along with barracks, recreational and other facilities required to support several dozen American air defenders.

U.S. and Israeli officers broke ground on a new U.S. Army base Monday. its purpose is to identify and intercept aerial threats.

“A few dozens of soldiers of our American allies will be stationed here permanently. They are part of an American task force that will be stationed here,” said Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the IDF‘s air defense commander.

According to Haimovich, the co-located, permanent U.S. presence will enhance Israel’s ability to detect and defend against the growing rocket and missile threat. “The purpose of their presence is not for training or for exercises, but rather as part of a joint Israeli and American effort to sustain and enhance our defensive capabilities.”

Maj. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commanding general of the Army National Guard in U.S. Army Europe, led the U.S. delegation participating in Sept. 18 ceremonies.

The United States is to create a new permanent base in Israel, something the U.S. Army National Guard's deputy commanding general says "signifies the strong bond" between the U.S. and Israel. "We’ll have Israeli airmen, U.S. soldiers living and working side-by-side," Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski said. (Israel Defense Forces) Correction: A previous version of this video misidentified the force Gronski helps command. He is with the U.S. Army National Guard.

Referring to the site as Site 883 Life Support Area, Gronski said the planned base “signifies the strong bond” that exists between the United States and Israel.

“This life support area represents the first ever stationing of a U.S. Army unit on Israeli soil,” he said. “The U.S. and Israel have long planned together, exercised together, trained together. And now, with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will occur every day. We’ll have Israeli airmen, US soldiers living and working side by side.”

While the new U.S. base marks the first to be co-located within an Israeli base and the first in which active interceptors are to be deployed, the U.S. military has operated an independent facility for nearly a decade in the same general area of Israel’s Negev desert. That facility — which is operated only by Americans without an Israeli presence — houses the U.S. AN/TPY-2, an X-Band radar that is integrated with Israeli search and track radars to augment early warning in the event of ballistic missile attack from Iran. 

In his briefing to reporters, Haimovich said the IDF has been working with its U.S. counterparts for nearly two years to establish the new facility. He emphasized that the American presence “would not hamper the IDFs ability to act independently against any threat to the security of the State of Israel.”

He also noted that in recent weeks, the IDFs Air Defense Command stood up a new Iron Dome battalion to enable the Jewish state to more equitably deploy active defenses along its northern as well as southern borders, where Israel faces growing threats from Lebanon and Gaza, respectively.

One of Israel’s operational Iron Dome systems is now in the U.S., where it is competing with U.S.-proposed systems for an interim — and possibly longer-term — solution to the medium- and short-range air defense requirement.
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[*] posted on 23-11-2017 at 11:32 AM


Israeli defense minister seeks defense budget boost

By: Barbara Opall-Rome   4 hours ago


Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks to the press on June 8, 2016, in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV – Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman flagged unplanned developments in a “fragile and explosive” region as justification for seeking an additional 4.8 billion shekels, or $1.4 billion, beyond funds earmarked for defense in a multiyear agreement between the Israeli Treasury and the Ministry of Defense.

He noted that the 2015 agreement hammered out between Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon contained a clause allowing for reopening of budgetary negotiations in the event of security or economic changes defined by respective ministries as “force majeure.”

“There’s been significant, dramatic changes in the security situation, that altered our situational assessment in a meaningful way,” Liberman told reporters here.

He cited three issues of force majeure: “a massive Russian presence” in Syria that did not exist when the budget deal was signed, introduction of precision weaponry by Hizbollah and “other sources,” and a “dramatic acceleration of the Iranian defense industries.”

According to Liberman, the Arab League shares Israeli concerns regarding the acceleration and expansion of the Iranian defense industry. “This has become a source of worry not just here. The Arab League also discussed this recently in Egypt.”

The Israeli defense minister said additional funds would be spread over three years, and that a quarter of his requested plus-up would come from savings achieved through MoD efficiency measures.

Of the existing budgetary agreement that was to continue through 2020, Liberman said: “The easiest way would be to adhere to the agreement… it may be the easiest, but not the correct way” to respond to changing events.

Under the 2015 budget deal, Israeli defense spending for 2018 was pegged at some $20 billion, which includes U.S. military aid. Under a new U.S.-Israel aid deal signed in September 2006, which kicks in later next year, Israel is to receive $3.8 billion in nonrefundable grant aid for each year of the decade to come, $500 million of which is earmarked for missile defense.

Ofer Shelah, an Israeli lawmaker and member of a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Defense Budget, said Liberman would have to come and explain to lawmakers how his requested budget boost fits into an overall national defense plan. “Such requests may be valid, but how are we to know without a comprehensive plan for how the government and the defense establishment intends to deal with these changes,” said Shelah, a prominent lawmaker who also serves on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a subcommittee on defense strategy and force structure buildup.

Liberman told reporters here that he has no complaints regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Finance Minister Kahlon, and that even without his requested plus-up, he would ensure that the IDF would be ready to fight all threats.

However, he warned, “I want everyone to be aware of the sensitive situation we’re finding ourselves in… The government needs at the end of the day to decide, and in order to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel, we need a supplement to our defense budget.”

He added, “At the end of the day, the situation here is fragile and explosive. We’ve succeeded a few good years already in preserving the highest level of security, and our primary aim remains focused on preventing the next war.”
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[*] posted on 12-12-2017 at 02:41 PM


Israel’s Liberman: Uniting behind pragmatism in the Middle East

By: Avigdor Liberman   1 day ago



The strategic divide in today’s Middle East between fanaticism and pragmatism outweighs the sectarian divisions of the past.

While the latter still play a role, they no longer override vital national interests the way they used to in much of the region.

This development bodes well for the future and suggests a way for moderate forces to thwart threats to the region’s stability and security.

As demonstrated by the upsurge of jihadi terrorism in Western capitals and the enormous refugee crises of recent years, these threats are ultimately global.

To properly understand the region’s dynamics and to effectively address the threats to its security, one needs to set aside outdated modes of thinking and realize that many of the traditional sectarian divisions have become blurred.

We see the blurring of old lines in both the fanatic and pragmatic quarters. Sunni Arab terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and Hamas have far more in common with the Persian Shiite regime of Iran and its Shia Arab proxy, Hezbollah, than with the governments and societies of most Sunni Arab states.

While the former uphold a violent, medieval, anti-Western worldview, the latter have a pro-Western approach, prioritizing stability, economic growth and security. In this, these Arab states are closer to each other, to the Kurds and to the Christian communities in the Middle East than to the extremist elements that ostensibly share their cultural and historical background.
And, of course, they are closer to Israel.

Ironically, the spread of revolutionary fanaticism led by Iran’s fundamentalist regime has boosted pragmatism in other quarters. Iran’s brazen attempt to create two Shia corridors — one stretching from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, to Lebanon, and the second stretching around the Persian Gulf from Bahrain to the Houthis in Yemen — has sparked an understandable pushback from Arab governments throughout the region.

Aside from being necessary to thwart Iran, this consolidation of sober pragmatism could ultimately help the region break free of its chronic stagnation and underdevelopment. For too long, the genuine interests of the region’s states and populations — security, sustainable economic development, modernization, scientific and technological advance — have been subordinated to the excesses of extremist ideologies.

Israel has long hoped to see the spread of a pragmatic mentality in the region and the attendant emergence of interest-driven policies, such as those that led to peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. Such a development has the potential to ultimately resolve Israel’s relations with all of our neighbors and to base regional security on common interests.

The harm of fanaticism is amply apparent in the Palestinian arena. Generations of Palestinian leaders have led their people astray by dogmatic adherence to unrealistic goals, territorial and otherwise. Were a genuinely pragmatic Palestinian leadership to emerge, we could advance realistic solutions to our disputed issues. The malaise of fanaticism hasn’t yet disappeared from Palestinian society, and until it does it is difficult to see a change for the better.

On the other hand, we see much evidence of sober thinking elsewhere in the region, notably among the Gulf states. Perhaps the clearest example is Saudi Arabia, whose leadership is leading a bold and visionary policy that doesn’t balk from identifying Iran as the overall regional threat and is forthrightly confronting its terrorist affiliates — the Houthis, Hezbollah and Hamas. By prioritizing modernization, liberalization and infrastructural investment, the Saudi government is focusing on its genuine, vital interests. All of these are, in fact, key regional interests.

As in the past, the region’s fanatic elements — prominently Hezbollah and Iran — have been signaling their alarm at the growing convergence of interests between the forces of pragmatism. But they are fighting against a growing tide. More and more leaders in the region understand that our common future lies in pragmatism, not fanaticism.

The more we, the region’s pragmatic forces, combine our energies to defeat our fanatic enemies, the better able we will be to provide for the region’s security and stability and to advance our respective national interests.

Avigdor Liberman is the Israeli minister of defense.
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[*] posted on 14-12-2017 at 10:40 PM


Israel Becomes Quiet Ally In Turbulent Middle East Region

In light of escalating tensions with neighboring regions, Israel maintains innovative defenses

Dec 14, 2017

David Eshel | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Israel Girds Up

Amid the political turmoil in the Middle East, Israel is arguably the most stable country in the region.

Israel is spending more than 5.7% of its gross domestic product on defense and enjoying billions of dollars in U.S. military aid for defense procurement that will reach more than $38 billion over the next 10 years. Although the small country maintains one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated militaries, lessons from recent nearby conflicts have shown that technology alone is not sufficient.



As the wars in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Yemen repeatedly show, voids left by withdrawals of a stable national government led to the rise of extremists who could overthrow military powers and push nations into chaos. Once hated by the Muslim world, Israel is now an ally quietly supporting moderate Arab nations, and is an important stabilizing force for regional security.

The Israeli Air Force has demonstrated its fully developed deep-strike capability, especially inside the well-defended Syrian airspace, with its fourth-generation fighters backed by advanced electronic warfare, command, control and communications and advanced weaponry. The first of three new fighter squadrons operating the F-35A has been declared operational.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Navy is modernizing its surface fleet and strengthening the submarine force, adding larger submarines with long-endurance capabilities associated with the country’s alleged ability to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike.

However, Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria has pinched Jerusalem’s ability to respond to developing threats, particularly in situations other than full-scale wars.

While Israel does not face military powers as it did in the 20th century, it is subjected to indirect threats from Iranian missiles and Iranian-sponsored irregular groups based in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, which have a large stock of rockets and missiles.

As long as those Iranian missiles are not tipped with unconventional warheads, Israel is well protected by the multilayered active defense system developed and fielded under an Israeli-U.S. funded program. The current system relies on Arrow II, David’s Sling, Iron Dome and Patriot missiles.

Preparing for a future nuclear threat from faster, longer-range missiles, Israel also has fielded the Arrow III, an exoatmospheric variant of the Arrow interceptors.. The Israeli military is aware of emerging threats, too, and is developing innovative technologies to defeat enemy attacks by using drones and underground infiltrations.

The Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) land forces command is responsible for preparing combat echelons for future conflicts.

While military service is mandatory for most of the nation’s youth, there has been a steady decline in conscripts’ motivation to serve in combat roles or remain in active duty beyond the required 32 months. Defense force statistics indicate that new recruits favor technology-oriented roles,over combat missions.

The IDF is offering financial incentives, particularly for those who remain in active service as commanders and officers in combat, technology-oriented and intelligence units. With battalions becoming more maneuverable and lethal, soldiers must operate new, highly sophisticated combat systems, advanced armored vehicles and missiles, along with intelligence-gathering systems and drones. Another area of innovation is robotics.


Israel guards against conventional threats with missile defense systems developed in cooperation with the U.S. such as the Rafael/Raytheon joint endeavor, David’s Sling. Credit: U.S. Missile Defense Agency

Before the turn of the decade, the IDF plans to field robotic warfighters to support soldiers on extremely dangerous missions. These could include an “advanced guard” robot and unmanned combat engineering systems, heavy bulldozers and light countermine and obstacle-removing systems. Logistical resupply is also an area soon to be dominated by aerial and ground-based autonomous systems. With an unprecedented level of networking, interoperability is becoming more sophisticated, enabling more combat elements to become effective. Land forces will be better able to link with the air and naval forces for focused efforts.

To further improve cooperation, the air force has increased its strike capability to thousands of targets per day. The service’s vertical heavy-lift capability also is improving with the induction of the C-130J Samson and upgrading of the remaining C-130H Hercules transports. And replacing the aging fleet of CH-53D helicopters with CH-53K or CH-47F choppers is on the agenda.
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[*] posted on 19-12-2017 at 12:12 PM


Despite its anti-Israel rhetoric, Hamas’ weakness limits military options and means it cannot abandon reconciliation with Fatah

Jack Kennedy - IHS Jane's Intelligence Weekly

18 December 2017


Residents of Gaza protest at the border barrier with Israel on 15 December 2017. Source: Photo/Getty Images

Key Points

- Hamas’ unwillingness to publicly abandon the existing reconciliation process with the PA is an indication of its diplomatic isolation and vulnerability as a result of the economic crisis in Gaza.
- Hamas’ calls for widespread popular protest over US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have no traction across the West Bank, and are unlikely to manifest in Gaza.
- The Israeli response to rocket fire is unlikely to provoke conflict escalation, but further Israeli progress towards completion of its barrier will increase the risk of miscalculation as the window of opportunity for a tunnel attack open to Gaza-based militants closes.

Event

On 12 December, the postponed timeline to transfer the governance powers of the Gaza Strip from the Islamist militant group Hamas to the Palestinian Authority (PA) passed without result.

The deadline for the transfer of power to the PA had already been extended by 10 days on 1 December as the two parties were unable to resolve outstanding disputes over security control within Gaza and the merging of two separate and competing civic administrations. At the time of writing, a key indicator for a successful transfer – the replacement of Hamas security force patrols with those of the PA – had not taken place.

Lack of support limits avenues for escalation

Despite their failure to meet the deadline, the current process of reconciliation is unlikely to be abandoned by Hamas. The group remains dependent on limited access to the Rafah border crossing, controlled by Egypt – the most visible external broker of the current process. Rejecting the process of negotiation with the PA would almost certainly cause Egypt to end the currently intermittent flow of basic commodities, diesel and electricity into Gaza at a time when the Hamas administration is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis.

The capacity of the group to secure external funding has been reduced in 2017 as a result of Gulf Arab and US pressure, and a convergence of external factors indicates that funding will be further constrained.

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[*] posted on 5-1-2018 at 11:39 AM


Israeli military chief outlines Hizbullah’s Syria commitment

Yaakov Lappin - Jane's Defence Weekly

04 January 2018

Some 40% of the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hizbullah’s personnel and capabilities have been “directed outside of Lebanon” to fight wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot told a conference on 2 January.


A ZSU-57-2 self-propelled howitzer flying the Hizbullah flag is seen near the town of Qarah in Syria’s Damascus province in August 2017. Once a small guerrilla force, the group's armed wing has been expanded and now operates far more heavy weapons. (Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Lt Gen Eisenkot said there were assessed to be about 8,000 Hizbullah fighters; 10,000 fighters from other Iranian-backed Shia groups, most of them Iraqis and Afghans; and 2,000 Iranian military experts currently in Syria.

He said Hizbullah had gained significant combat experience in the fighting, but had “paid a very heavy price” with 2,000 of its fighters killed and 10,000 wounded in the past four years. “It is facing very difficult internal questions in Lebanon about [its] role and why Shiite youths are shedding their blood [in Syria],” he said.

While Hizbullah claimed its military capabilities were needed to defend Lebanon, it had “found itself in the past four years mainly fighting as an Iranian proxy in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen”, the Israeli chief of staff said.

Iran’s objective in Syria is not just to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power, but build a presence in the country that threatens Israel, according to Lt Gen Eisenkot. “The Iranians wish to consolidate their presence in Syria on land, in the air, and at sea. They are building intelligence facilities. The threat to us is significant,” he said. “Our effort is directed at preventing this consolidation.”

He said it was possible that the relative quiet that had prevailed since Israeli’s 2006 conflict with Hizbullah could continue for many more years, but maintaining the status quo would not take priority over “remov[ing] advanced Hizbullah capabilities and preventing the arrival of Iranian-[backed] Shia militias at the Golan Heights”.

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[*] posted on 16-1-2018 at 02:22 PM


Israel touts 'steel dome' as answer to terror tunnels

By: Barbara Opall-Rome   5 hours ago


Israeli soldier seen inside a tunnel built underground by Hamas militants leading from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel, seen on August 4, 2014 near the Israeli Gaza border, Israel. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV, Israel — For the fourth time in three months, Israel employed what is being called here its “steel dome” to detect and destroy a cross-border tunnel from the Gaza Strip.

Inspired by the Israeli Iron Dome, which combines radar, a discriminating battle management system and kinetic interceptors against short-range rockets and other cross-border threats from the air, the so-called steel dome is a multilayered system of new technologies, tactics and procedures aimed at denying militants from Hamas and Gaza-based terror organizations the ability to attack Israel from underground.

The latest demonstration of the new system came in the early morning hours of Jan. 14, when the Israel Air Force — supported by ground forces from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Southern Command — detected and destroyed a tunnel that extended nearly a kilometer within southern Gaza, traversed some 200 meters under Israel’s border, and continued about 400 meters into neighboring Egypt.

“The tunnel was located using combined technological, intelligence and operational capabilities,” the Israeli military noted in its Jan. 14 statement. “Locating these tunnels is part of a wide-scale defensive effort led by the IDF and Southern Command.”

In an interview to the Arab-language, U.S.-based satellite television station Alhurra, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the West Bank and Gaza, indicated that Israel has detected additional cross-border tunnels and warned Gazans working in or near them that they, too, would be destroyed.

“Just like there’s Iron Dome for [threats coming from] the air, there’s a technological umbrella of steel underground,” Mordechai said. “I want to send a message to everyone who is digging or gets too close to the tunnels: As you’ve seen… these tunnels bring only death.”

Since late October, Israel has employed ground- and air-based detection capabilities that not only locate the tunnel, but provide Israeli authorities with clearer indication of their route.

In addition to the new detection capabilities and means of destroying the tunnels, Israel is constructing a sensor-fused, underground barrier on its side of the border at an estimated cost of some $800 million, or $11 million for each kilometer its 65-kilometer border with the Gaza Strip.

That physical barrier is scheduled for completion by the end of next year.
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[*] posted on 16-1-2018 at 08:44 PM


Israel finds another cross-border tunnel

Yaakov Lappin, Tel Aviv - Jane's Defence Weekly

15 January 2018


A still from a video released by the IDF shows the route of tunnel from the Gaza Strip to Egypt's North Sinai province via Israeli territory. Source: Israel Defense Forces

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on 14 January that it had destroyed a Hamas tunnel dug from the Gaza Strip to Egypt via the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel.

An Israeli Air Force fighter bombed part of the tunnel in Gaza on 13 January before IDF Combat Engineer units demolished the part inside Israel.

IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Cornicus said the tunnel was 1.5 km, 900 m of which was in Gaza and 180 m in Israel.

“We just completed the destruction of a third terror tunnel [in recent weeks]," Lt Col Cornicus said. “We treat it as yet another severe violation of sovereignty… we understand that Hamas views it as a significant asset.”

The IDF said the tunnel was intended to be used to attack Israeli security personnel at the Kerem Shalom crossing and a nearby IDF post, as well as smuggle weapons in from Egypt.

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[*] posted on 13-2-2018 at 04:55 PM


Israel Air Force says seized Iranian drone is a knockoff of US Sentinel

By: Barbara Opall-Rome   15 hours ago


Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits next to a captured U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel on May 11, 2014. The drone crashed in Iran in December 2011. (AFP via Iranian leader's website)

TEL AVIV, Israel — A senior Israeli Air Force officer told reporters Monday that the Iranian drone it intercepted over the weekend was a “copy” of a stealthy U.S.-built RQ-170 Sentinel downed by Iranian forces over Iranian territory in 2011.

“It’s a copy of a similar system that fell in Iran,” Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar, chief of staff of the Israeli Air Force, said of the drone in Israel’s possession, which he identified as Shahed 171.

“They more or less duplicated it … but I won’t grade them,” said Bar, referring to Iran’s reverse engineering capabilities.

Iran released a video of the Shahed 171 in flight back in 2014. Two years later, Iran showed another knockoff based on the Lockheed Martin Sentinel, an armed version known as the Saeqeh, according to Tal Inbar, director of the UAV and space program at Israel’s Fisher Brothers Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.

“There are two copies that Iran made out of the RQ-170. One is Shahed 171, and this is supposed to be jet powered and for reconnaissance missions. Then there is the other variant of this vehicle — similar in design to RQ-170, with a piston engine and a propeller — named Saeqeh. This variant was shown in 2016 armed with four laser-guided munitions,” Inbar told Defense News.

Officers here said Israel maintained persistent intelligence of the drone as it took off from the Palmyra area of Syria, made its way through northern Jordan and entered Israeli airspace, where it was shot down by an Israeli Apache helicopter. “We have full situational awareness, 24/7 … and we remain steadfast in the face of the strategic aims of Iran and Hezbollah,” Bar said.

In response to the Feb. 10 breach of Israeli territory by the Iranian reverse-engineered U.S. system, Israel deployed a force package of eight F-16Is to target the Iranian command trailer near Palmyra in central Syria.

It was during that retaliatory raid that one of the Israeli F-16Is was hit by a Syrian-based air defense missile on its return to Israel. The front-line fighter fell in Israel’s Galilee region after the pilots ejected over Israeli territory.

Shortly after its Feb. 12 interception of the Iranian drone, Israel released grainy video footage of the aircraft flying in Israeli airspace, but has yet to release images from the wreckage of the Iranian knockoff now in its possession.

“I don’t know what was the specific vehicle that penetrated Israel. But if it was the Shahed, as the Air Force general said, it’s more sophisticated since it’s supposed to be jet powered. But from the video released by the Israel Defense Forces, you don’t see any trails of hot air typical of jet-powered vehicles,” Inbar noted.

“Either way, the fact that it was tracked and shot down by the Israel Air Force was a test for both sides: For the Iranians, it showed that they need to improve upon their stealth properties. And for the Israelis, it was validation of its air defense network,” he added.

Last May, in an indication that U.S. or allied forces could face knockoffs of the RQ-107 in battle, the U.S. Army included the Lockheed Sentinel system in its manual of “Visual Aircraft Recognition.”
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[*] posted on 13-2-2018 at 09:45 PM


The fact it was shot down by a helicopter, probably leans towards the idea tha this wasn’t a jet powered UAV...



In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 14-2-2018 at 10:45 AM


Yeah, Tyler Rogoway has some info on that (and an image) in this article:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/18389/flurry-of-aircraf...

A couple of days old, but still relevant I think.
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[*] posted on 15-2-2018 at 07:02 PM


14/02/2018 5:33 AM AEDT | Updated 14/02/2018 8:57 AM AEDT

Israeli Police Recommend Prime Minister Netanyahu Be Indicted On Corruption Charges

He could face indictment after a months-long investigation into two separate allegations of corruption.

By Josh Butler

Israeli police have recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges, after police agreed last week there was sufficient evidence to charge him, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Netanyahu responded to the reports in a live address Tuesday afternoon, saying he will continue to lead Israel and that the recommendations against him will “end with nothing.”

The nation’s prime minister since 2009, he could face indictment after a monthslong investigation into two separate allegations of corruption. The police findings will be examined by state prosecutors and the attorney general, which could take months, The New York Times reported.

In a first case, known as Case 1000, investigators have looked at whether Netanyahu accepted bribes from billionaire donors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu faced claims he entered into a deal with the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in which he would receive favorable coverage in exchange for weakening a rival publication by restricting its circulation. Both the prime minister and the publisher, Arnon Mozes, have denied that the conversations, leaked in transcripts to the media, were serious discussions.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in both cases. In a Facebook video published last week in response to news of the impending recommendation, the prime minister maintained his innocence and said the investigations would turn up “nothing.”

“Many of you are asking, what will happen? So I want to reassure you: There will be nothing, because I know the truth,” he said, according to a translation of his address. “I’m sure that at the end of the day the qualified legal factors will come to one conclusion, the simple truth: There is nothing.”

In a follow-up statement, also posted to Facebook last week, the prime minister criticized the investigation and claimed “a great shadow” had been “imposed tonight on police investigations in the matter of Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

“Any fair-minded person will ask themselves how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can investigate him objectively and make recommendations in his case without bias,” he wrote.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in August that if Netanyahu were to be indicted on corruption charges, he would not be obligated to resign.

Netanyahu is serving his fourth term as Israel’s prime minister, the second time he has held the position after formerly being elected to the office from 1996 to 1999.


Jim Hollander/Pool/Reuters Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday.
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[*] posted on 28-3-2018 at 02:38 PM


U.S. to Provide Israel Record Amount for Missile Defense Program

(Source: Forecast International; issued March 26, 2018)

WASHINGTON --- The United States will provide Israel with $705 million in aid for its missile defense program. This is a record amount and a dramatically increased in this budget. This additional funding will help to support production of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow-3 missile defense systems.

These systems provide Israel with a protective shield against short- mid- and long-range ballistic missiles. The Arrow 3 can intercept threats at a much higher altitude and further away from Israeli soil.

Tensions on Israel’s southern and northern borders have been rising in recent months. Recently, Israel and the United States completed the large-scale Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 08:26 PM


Saudi Crown Prince Says Israelis Have Right to Their Own Land

April 02, 2018 7:45 PM


FILE PHOTO - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud is shown during a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, March 27, 2018.

RIYADH —

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said Israelis are entitled to live peacefully on their own land in an interview published on Monday in U.S. magazine The Atlantic, another public sign of ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv appearing to grow closer.

Asked if he believes the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland, Mohammed bin Salman was quoted as saying: “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”

A common threat

Saudi Arabia — birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest shrines — does not recognize Israel. It has maintained for years that normalizing relations hinges on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war, territory Palestinians seek for a future state.

“We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people,” said Prince Mohammed who is touring the United States to drum up investments and support for his efforts to contain Iranian influence.

Increased tension between Tehran and Riyadh has fueled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together against what they see as a common Iranian threat.

“There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” Prince Mohammed added.

New airspace rules

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel last month, which an Israeli official hailed as historic following two years of efforts.

In November, an Israeli cabinet member disclosed covert contacts with Saudi Arabia, a rare acknowledgment of long-rumored secret dealings which Riyadh still denies.

Saudi Arabia condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, but Arab officials told Reuters at the time that Riyadh appears to be on board with a broader U.S. strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan still in its early phases of development.
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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 10:25 PM


That’s very big of them...



In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 7-4-2018 at 01:25 PM


Gaza protests reduce likelihood of interstate conflict, but unlikely to improve Hamas’s domestic popularity without external support

Jack Kennedy - IHS Jane's Intelligence Weekly

06 April 2018


Palestinian protesters burn tyres and throw stones at the Israel-Gaza border on 5 April 2018. Source: Mormen Faiz/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Key Points

- Hamas’s leadership is domestically weak and seeking to exploit protests to achieve public support and delegitimise the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
- The Israeli response will avoid direct military escalation but elevates the likelihood of a prolonged period of IDF deployment along the Gaza border.
- Failure of mass protests to breach the border wall and attract international financial support will ultimately discredit the Palestinian factions and increase the likelihood of a stronger US position in any upcoming peace negotiations.

Event

On 30 March, an estimated 35,000–40,000 Palestinians in Gaza participated in a pre-planned protest march towards the border wall with Israel.

The protests, dubbed a ‘March of Return’ by Hamas and Palestinian media, coincided with the Palestinian commemoration of Land Day and were organised with the intention of breaching the barrier and continuing within Israel.

The 30 March demonstrations are likely to be the first of a series of protests by Palestinians in the lead-up to the anniversary of the founding of Israel on 14 May.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) gave advance warning that attempts to enter the border security zone or breach the border wall would be met with force. In the event, tear gas, rubber bullets, and live fire were used to counter marchers, with designated snipers stationed along the border. At least 17 protesters were killed, and a further 773 wounded by live ammunition during the protest, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. The IDF claimed that eight of those killed were Hamas militants, with a further individual belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and another belonging to an unnamed Salafist group operating in Gaza. Hamas has acknowledged that at least five members of its armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades, were among those killed. Attempts to breach the border barrier have involved groups with wire cutters or blunt instruments and are unlikely to represent a genuine attempt by Hamas’ leadership to move significant numbers into Israel.

(349 of 1248 words)
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[*] posted on 18-4-2018 at 04:23 PM


Intercepting the Iranian UAV

(Source: Israeli Air Force; issued April 16, 2018)


While previous engagements of hostile UAVs were carried out by air-defense missiles or F-16 fighters, the Israeli Air Force is now beginning to assign that mission to the Apache attack helicopter. (IAF photo)

Last Friday, it was revealed that the Iranian UAV which infiltrated Israel’s territory on February 10th, 2018 carried explosives and that its mission was to perform an attack in Israel’s territory. This information was based on flight route analysis and operational intelligence research performed on the UAV.

The interception of the Iranian UAV by an IAF "Saraf" (AH-64D Apache Longbow) attack helicopter prevented the attack and an Iranian attempt to perform a military action in Israel’s territory. It is noted that the Iranian aircraft was detected in the IAF/IDF’s defense systems and traced until its interception. It did not pose a danger during its flight in Israel’s territory.

The helicopter was piloted by Lt. Col. L', Commander of the 113th ("Hornet") Squadron based in Ramon AFB. In a special interview for the IAF Site, Lt. Col. L' tells all about the operation.

A Positive Result

It was a cold Saturday morning, and a crew of technicians and pilots from the 113th Squadron was on ready alert. Around 04:00 AM, the alarm sounded and the crew was called to action. A number of minutes later, the following voices sounded on the radio:

"Tell us when the target has crossed the line", the air traffic controller said to the pilot.

"It's crossed. I need your help", answered the pilot.

"You are allowed to engage", confirmed the controller.

The pilot replied: "Positive result on the target. It has exploded in the air".

"We were in communication with the control center when the UAV was detected. I realized what and where it was and managed to make contact as soon as it got closer".

"I made eye contact before it even entered Israel's territory", added Lt. Col. L'. "When it neared the border, we understood that it was indeed a UAV. We waited for it to cross the border. I was in communication with the IAF's Command Center in attempts to estimate where it would fall. As soon as it crossed the border, I was permitted to intercept".

As Well As Possible

For the first time ever, the IAF intercepted an Iranian UAV which infiltrated Israel’s territory. The challenging, low-signature UAV was intercepted during nighttime, in motion in a clouded sky. “The squadron performed the mission as well as possible”, declared Lt. Col. L’. “We will not allow our aerial sovereignty and Israel’s sovereignty to be violated. A UAV such as this one can reach far into Israel and collect data, or even explode in Israel’s territory. It was important for us to perform the mission in its entirety - prevent the enemy from invading our territory and then using fighter aircraft to attack the Iranian control station”.

When Lt. Col. L’ was asked why the IAF chose the helicopter division for the mission, he replied: “The attack helicopter division has a variety of capabilities, such as detection and reconnaissance. The ‘Saraf’ helicopter can detect the target and transfer data in real-time”.

Cold and Professional

Lt. Col. L' elaborated: “We came prepared and operated according to the operational orders. I received constant updates regarding the target’s location from the controllers in the IAF Headquarters. The conduct was very professional, both in the squadron and in the cockpit. Procedures went only as planned. We felt good after the attack because we knew that the mission was operated well. One of our missions is defending Israel’s skies, with an emphasis on the northern theatre”.

The Battle Goes On

“Our work didn’t end after the Iranian UAV interception”, revealed Lt. Col. L’. “We had a mission to follow the UAV's wreckage until it reaches the ground in order to ensure that there are no civilian casualties”. Lt. Col. L’s crew directed the “Yanshuf” (Blackhawk) helicopter in collection of the UAV's wreckage. “It was important to collect the wreckage quickly so that we could understand the type of UAV and whether or not it carried explosives”.

Later on, a large-scale attack was performed targeting Syrian aerial defense systems as well as Iranian targets in Syria. “My helicopter crew had just returned from the interception mission. As squadron commander, I had to prepare my squadron for combat”, described Lt. Col. L’. “We armed our helicopters, briefed everyone and began preparing for more operational activity. The squadron is prepared for any occasion in any theatre”.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 20-4-2018 at 11:03 AM


IDF highlights Iranian presence in Syria

Jeremy Binnie, London and Yaakov Lappin, Tel Aviv - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

19 April 2018


A Saegheh is seen with four missiles and the panel over the top of its nose removed. The weapons were probably only attached for display purposes to what may be a type of loitering munition launched against Israeli from Syria on 10 February. Source: Sepah News

Key Points

- The IDF has identified five locations in Syria where Iran has a military presence
- It has also accused the Iranians of carrying out their first direct attack on Israel

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has revealed details of Iran’s military presence in Syria in what appears to be an attempt to deter Tehran from launching attacks on Israel from the neighbouring country.

IDF officials told journalists on 17 April that there is an Iranian military presence at five Syrian airbases and airports: T4 (Tiyas) Air Base in Homs province; Damascus International Airport and Sayqal Air Base in Damascus province; Dayr al-Zawr Air Base in eastern Syria; and Aleppo Airport.

They released satellite imagery showing the purported Iranian areas at Sayqal and Dayr al-Zawr, as well as transport aircraft at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport.

DigitalGlobe satellite imagery shows that a UAV has been operating since at least 1 December 2017 from the part of Dayr al-Zawr Air Base the IDF said is used by Iran. With a twin-boom configuration and a wingspan of approximately 9 m, the aircraft could be a Forpost operated by the Russian military, which has also deployed Su-25 ground attack jets to the base. Iran has at least two similar UAVs – the Ababil-3 and the new Mohajer-6 – but their dimensions have not been released.

The IDF has previously released aerial imagery showing an UAV outside two hangars at T4. It said the UAV was operated by Iranians and the location was targeted by airstrikes on 10 February in retaliation for an Iranian UAV incursion into Israeli airspace earlier that day.

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