Archive for August 24, 2018

Israel hails British, French airline decisions to halt flights to Iran 

August 24, 2018

Source: Israel hails British, French airline decisions to halt flights to Iran – Israel Hayom

Palestinian security forces thwart major terror attack on IDF

August 24, 2018

Source: Palestinian security forces thwart major terror attack on IDF

Two anonymous sources familiar with the investigation tell Yedioth Ahronoth an extremely powerful bomb, packed with nails, was planted on the side of a road on Route 443 and intended to hit a military convoy in a bid to sabotage upcoming ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas; Security authorities believe Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah may have had a hand in the planned attack.
The Palestinian security apparatus thwarted a serious terror attack over the last few days involving the use of an extremely powerful bomb on Highway 443, which was intended to blow up an IDF convoy in a bid to sabotage efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.Two sources familiar with the attempted bombing who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue confirmed the details that were first published in Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday morning.

 (Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

The bomb was found on the side of a road between the Palestinian villages of Beit Liqya and Beit ‘Anan, south of Route 443 in Area C, which is under full Israeli control.IDF convoys frequently travel on the road while on their way to carry out military operations in Palestinian villages such as overnight arrests of wanted terror suspects.

The bomb was assembled with two gas canisters which were attached to an explosive device and contained a large number of nails.

It was discovered by the Palestinians security forces and dismantled by the Palestinian engineer units. According to the officials, the Israeli security forces were made aware of the bomb immediately.

 (Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

The incident is still under full investigation and initial suspicions indicate that the methods used in the attempted attack are also those employed by Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

Beit Liqya is home to a small number of activists affiliated with Islamic Jihad, but security forces are also examining the possibility that others are affiliated with Hezbollah terror group and are seeking to ascertain whether or not they were responsible for planting the bomb.

 (Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

One of the sources said that the working assumption is that the people who planted the bomb sought to carry out the attack in the immediate future during the days on which the negotiations were set to take place between Hamas and Israel to put an end to months of fighting that have threatened to drag the two sides into another conflict.

The size of the bomb suggested an intention that the attack was supposed to be extremely powerful and to inflict many casualties.

As far as is known, the incident is the second time that the Palestinian security apparatus has exposed bombs planted on the roads which were intended to blow up IDF forces.

At the beginning of the year, the Palestinian Security Services uncovered 12 barrel bombs planted along a road in the Tulkarm area, a Palestinian security source told Ynet.

The explosives were found on a road connecting the Palestinian villages of Attil and Illar in Area A of the West Bank, which is under complete Palestinian Authority control.

Israel mocks Iran’s ‘indigenous’ fighter jet as copy of obsolete F-5

August 24, 2018

Persians, are you serious? C’mon, you need to do a bit better than this.

There are more pictures in the article at the link – if you are interested in seeing what fighter jets looked like 70 odd years ago….

Israel mocks Iran’s ‘indigenous’ fighter jet as copy of obsolete F-5

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-mocks-irans-indigenous-fighter-jet-as-copy-of-obsolete-f-5/

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, left, waves to the pilots of a fighter jet, before an inauguration ceremony of the aircraft, Iran, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)

Iranian media praises Kowsar’s ‘advanced avionics’; defense minister says it is an answer to threats from Israel, US

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mocked Iran’s revelation Tuesday of its “indigenous” new fighter jet.

Iran unveiled the fighter jet at a defense show in Tehran on Tuesday, calling the Kowsar a “fourth-generation” fighter, with “advanced avionics” and multi-purpose radar, the Iranian news agency Tasnim said, adding that it was “100-percent indigenously made.”

But analysts quickly noted similarities between the plane and the F-5 fighter jet, made by Northrop-Grumman in the 1950s.

“The Iranian regime unveils the Kowsar plane and claims that it is ‘the first 100% locally-manufactured Iranian fighter jet,’” Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu’s Arabic language spokesman, wrote on Twitter. “It boasts about its offensive capabilities. But I immediately noticed that this is a very old American war plane (it was manufactured in the ‘50s). It is from the F-5 class of jets which has not been in use for decades.”

The F-5 was sold to Iran in the 1960s and first entered operation in the Iranian Imperial Air Force in 1965. In the West the F-5 line of jets is largely used for training purposes.

Iran has already used the F-5 platform — and, some observers suggest, actual parts from its aging fleet of non-flying F-5s — to develop its newer jets.

The Saeqeh, first flown in 2004, was one such plane.

The suspicions follow the much-derided unveiling in 2013 of an apparently fake previous “first” domestic fighter jet, the Qaher F-313, which was determined by numerous Western experts to have been a plastic model of a plane too small to fly.

State TV said the Kowsar had already been through successful testing and showed it waiting on a runway for its first public display flight, though live footage of the flight stopped before the plane took off [Bwahahahahaha!!!!]

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took the unveiling of the new fighter jet more seriously, saying it was a “natural reaction to an economic crisis.”

“The Iranians are feeling very pressured by the continued US sanctions and in reaction they are coming out with these things, but we also shouldn’t dismiss it,” Liberman told reporters.

At the Kowsar’s unveiling Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic must prepare to battle its enemies.

“We should make ourselves ready to fight against the military powers who want to take over our territory and our resources,” the president said in a televised address at the event, Reuters reported.

Images on state television showed Rouhani sitting in the cockpit of the new plane at the National Defense Industry exhibition.

The plane was publicly announced on Saturday by Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami, who had said it would be unveiled on Wednesday.

He gave few details of the project, focusing instead on Iran’s efforts to upgrade its missile defenses.

Hatami said the defense program was motivated by memories of the missile attacks Iran suffered during its eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, and by repeated threats from Israel and the United States that “all options are on the table” in dealing with the Islamic Republic’s nuclear and ballistic missile projects and its threats to destroy Israel.

“We have learned in the [Iran-Iraq] war that we cannot rely on anyone but ourselves. Our resources are limited and we are committed to establishing security at a minimum cost,” he said in a televised interview.

The US has sold hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Iran’s regional rivals, and is in the process of reimposing crippling sanctions in a bid to force Iran to end its military deployments and support for allied militias in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the region.

In May, the US announced it was abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing nuclear-related sanctions, threatening global companies with heavy penalties if they continue to operate in Iran.

In a bid to salvage the accord, the EU and European parties to the deal — Britain, France, and Germany — presented a series of economic “guarantees” to Iran last month, but they were deemed “insufficient” by Tehran.

The sanctions that went into effect earlier in August target US dollar financial transactions, Iran’s automotive sector, and the purchase of commercial planes and metals, including gold. Even stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be re-imposed in early November.

US President Donald Trump has offered talks on a “more comprehensive deal” but Iran has balked at negotiating under the pressure of sanctions and has instead leaned on its increasingly close ties with fellow US sanctions targets Turkey and Russia.

Aussies to get Spike missiles, Trophy protection system

August 24, 2018

Some good news for a change.

Proud to see our armed forces supporting the Israeli defence industry.

And this is top shelf stuff we are getting, the Trophy system is a seriously clever piece of kit.

(Note that it looks like German military hardware shown in the pic in the article, definitely not Australian!).

RAFAEL TO SUPPLY AUSTRALIA WITH SPIKE MISSILES, TROPHY PROTECTION SYSTEM

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israeli-Rafael-equips-Australia-with-SPIKE-LR2-for-combat-vehicles-565517

Lance turret firing SPIKE LR Missle

Australian army second outside Israel [after the US military] to purchase armored vehicle safety product

Defense giant Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has been selected to provide several weapons systems to the Australian Defense Force, including the Spike LR2 fifth-generation anti-tank guided weapon and Trophy Active Protection System.

The announcement was made Wednesday in Canberra by Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne at the official launch ceremony of VRA Systems, a joint venture between Rafael and engineering company the Varley Group.

According to VRA’s inaugural CEO Jacob Blitman, the company will employ up to 70 Australians in local facilities with the potential to hire hundreds more.

“VRA aims to maximize the proportion of Spike LR2 componentry produced in Australia and deliver through life in service support, making use of our reach-back to Rafael’s research and development network in Israel,” he said.

Jeff Phillips, Managing Director of the Varley Group, said, “the 5th Generation Spike LR2 is the first of what we hope will be many opportunities for VRA to deliver Australian sovereign capabilities, drive innovation and jobs, and create export opportunities.”

The Spike LR2, which will be delivered to the Australian Defence Force by VRA Systems for their new Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, is an advanced, multipurpose missile which incorporates improvements in lethality and immunity.

The 12.7 kg. missile, which can be fired from vehicles, helicopters, ships and ground launchers, has advanced electro-optic seekers which includes capabilities of a smart target tracker with artificial intelligence features.

The Spike LR2 also has two advanced warhead configurations for increased lethality, the company said. One is the tandem high-explosive anti-tank warhead configuration, which ups the armor penetration capability of the missile by over 30%, and the other is the new multipurpose blast warhead, which gives the gunner control of the desired effect.

Designed against new modern targets with a low signature and time-sensitive characteristics, the missile also includes new third-party target allocation (networked-enabled) enhancement with an embedded inertial measurement unit assembly which allows the missiles to be fired to grid target coordinates including advanced armor and protection systems, making it one of the only missiles in the world with this capability.

In addition to the Spike LR2, the Australian Defense Forces is set to receive the Trophy Active Protection System for their armored vehicles, becoming the second army after the United States to purchase the system.

Designed to detect and neutralize incoming projectiles, the Trophy system has four radar antennae and fire-control radars to track incoming threats, such as anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Once a projectile is detected, the Trophy system fires a shotgun-type blast to neutralize the threat.

The Trophy system is the only fully operational and combat-proven active protection system in the world, proving its efficacy in several operations, especially during Operation Protective Edge, when IDF tanks were able to operate in the Gaza Strip without suffering any losses.

VRA will also deliver a range of other Rafael products to Australia, including the Tamir counter-rocket, artillery and missile interceptor for short-range ground-based air defense; and the Torbuster torpedo counter-

Iraqi Shiite militia heavily bombed on Syrian-Iraqi highway, first major assault on Soleimani’s forces – DEBKAfile

August 24, 2018

Source: Iraqi Shiite militia heavily bombed on Syrian-Iraqi highway, first major assault on Soleimani’s forces – DEBKAfile

Exclusive: The pro-Iranian Iraqi Khatib Hezballah Shiite militia was heavily bombed on Thursday, Aug. 23 on the Syrian-Iraqi highway near the eastern Syrian town of Abu Kamal, our military sources report. On Monday, we were first to reveal that US National Security adviser John Bolton had this week discussed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a possible joint military operation by the US and Israel against Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Al Qods Brigades in the Middle East, and the pro-Iranian Shiite proxy militias in Syria.

The Iraqi militia hit on Thursday belonged to Soleimani’s forces in that country. The attack took place as Bolton sat down with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushov in Geneva, and was presumably meant to warn to Moscow that the US was serious about military action for ousting Iranian forces from Syria. Bolton said later that they had discussed a “series of steps” for removing Iran’s military presence from Syria. Patrushev said nothing had been decided in their talks.

DEBKAfile reported on Wednesday that Soleimani was building up strength to seize control of the Iraqi-Syrian highway and massing troops in the Western Iraqi province of Anbar. Three months ago, on June 18, the Israeli air force bombed another Iraqi militia concentration, this one at Deir ez-Zour not far from the Syrian-Iraqi border.

After Trump aide’s warning, Iran threatens to hit US, Israel targets

August 24, 2018

Source: After Trump aide’s warning, Iran threatens to hit US, Israel targets

REUTERS

PublishedAug 23, 2018, 11:36 am IST
UpdatedAug 23, 2018, 11:36 am IST
US-Iranian war of words has escalated since Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran in May.
US sanctions dusted off this month targeted Iran's car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and purchases of US dollars crucial to international financing and investment and trade relations. (Photo: AP)

 US sanctions dusted off this month targeted Iran’s car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and purchases of US dollars crucial to international financing and investment and trade relations. (Photo: AP)

London/Jerusalem: Iran warned on Wednesday it would hit US and Israeli targets if it were attacked by the United States after President Donald Trump’s security adviser said Washington would exert maximum pressure on Tehran going beyond economic sanctions.

A US-Iranian war of words has escalated since Trump withdrew Washington from the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran in May, blasting it as flawed and reimposing sanctions to choke Iran’s economy and force it to renegotiate or change direction.

The US turnaround, which scrapped a wary detente between Iran and the United States after decades of hostility, has drawn defiance from Tehran despite renewed unrest over economic privations, and has unnerved other big powers where businesses have been debating whether to divest from Iran.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters the return of US sanctions was having a strong effect on Iran’s economy and popular opinion.

“There should not be any doubt that the United States wants this resolved peacefully, but we are fully prepared for any contingency that Iran creates,” Bolton said during a visit to Israel, Iran’s enemy in the Middle East.

US sanctions dusted off this month targeted Iran’s car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and purchases of US dollars crucial to international financing and investment and trade relations. Farther-reaching sanctions are to follow in November on Iran’s banking sector and oil exports.

European powers have been scrambling to ensure Iran secures enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal. This has proven difficult, with many European firms keen to avoid financial penalties by the Trump administration.

“We expect that Europeans will see, as businesses all over Europe are seeing, that the choice between doing business with Iran or doing business with the United States is very clear to them,” Bolton said.

“So we will see what plays out in November. But (Trump) has made it very clear – his words – he wants maximum pressure on Iran, maximum pressure, and that is what is going on.”

Asked at a news conference later whether the United States had discussed any plans with ally Israel on how to capitalise on economic protests in Iran and if these posed any tangible threat to the Tehran government, Bolton said:

“Just to be clear, regime change in Iran is not American policy. But what we want is massive change in the regime’s behaviour … We are going to do other things to put pressure on Iran as well, beyond economic sanctions.” He did not elaborate.

“Price of War”

A senior Iranian cleric seen as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told worshippers at Eid holiday prayers in Tehran: “The price of a war with Iran is very high for America.

“They know if they harm this country and this state in the slightest way the United States and its main ally in the region, the Zionist regime (Israel), would be targeted,” Ahmad Khatami said.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have said it could strike Israeli cities with missiles if it were threatened. Iran also has proxies in the region including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they would continue increasing Iran’s defensive capabilities not surrender to US pressure to scrap its ballistic missile programme.

Last week, Khamenei – who has the ultimate say on Iranian policy – said the United States would avoid outright conflict because of Iranian military might.

“There will be no war…We have never started a war and they will not confront Iran militarily,” he said.

Trump’s campaign to isolate Iran and cripple its economy has put the old adversaries back on a collision course that European signatories to the nuclear accord fear will raise the risk of a broader Middle East war.

Deal ‘Soft on Iran’

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its contested uranium enrichment programme under UN monitoring and won an end to global sanctions in return.

Trump has condemned the deal as too soft on Tehran and would not stop it developing a nuclear bomb, though UN nuclear non-proliferation inspectors have repeatedly certified Iranian compliance with its terms.

Khatami, the prominent Iranian cleric, also said Trump’s offer of talks was unacceptable as he was demanding Tehran give up its ballistic missile programme and scale back regional influence. Neither issue was covered by the 2015 agreement.

“Americans say you should accept what we say in the talks. So this is not negotiation, but dictatorship,” Mizan news agency quoted Khatami as saying.

Trump has said Iran must stop meddling in wars in Syria and Yemen, part of a foreign policy supporting regional allies in conflict with proxies of US-backed Gulf Arab kingdoms.

Tehran has not given an inch to Trump’s pressure despite an economy beset by high unemployment and inflation and a rial currency that has lost half its value since April.

Thousands of Iranians have protested against price rises of some food items, a lack of jobs and state corruption. The protests over the cost of living have often turned into anti-government rallies.

“I think the effects, the economic effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated,” Bolton said.

“But Iranian activity in the region has continued to be belligerent: what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing in Syria, what they are doing with Hezbollah in Lebanon, what they are doing in Yemen, what they have threatened to do in the Strait of Hormuz.”

The Strait is a strategic waterway for oil shipments which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block in response to Trump administration calls to ban all Iranian oil exports.

 

ANALYSIS: As Bolton and Netanyahu Discuss Syria, Iran Prepares for War Against Israel

August 24, 2018

Source: ANALYSIS: As Bolton and Netanyahu Discuss Syria, Iran Prepares for War Against Israel – Israel Today | Israel News

Thursday, August 23, 2018 |  Yochanan Visser

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton was in Jerusalem for a three-day-visit this week.

The discussions between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Bolton mainly focused on Syria and on Iran’s entrenchment in the war-torn country.

Bolton revealed that Russia’s president Vladimir Putin had told president Trump he would be content if Iranian regular and irregular forces would be withdrawn from Syria but that he was not able “to do it himself.”

Trump’s envoy suggested the U.S. would work together with the Russian military to achieve the goal of a complete Iranian withdrawal from Syria and said he would bring up the issue with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev during a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.

“So the point was that perhaps joint US-Russian efforts might be sufficient. Now I don’t know if that is right either, but it is certainly one of the subjects I will be talking about with my Russian counterpart in Geneva tomorrow,” said during a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Bolton made clear that after the defeat of ISIS in Syria eliminating Iran’s presence in Syria was now the cornerstone of Trump’s Middle East policy.

The US military has thousands of Special Forces in areas controlled by the Kurdish-led  Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria and in the al-Tanf area in the vicinity of the Iraqi border in the eastern Syrian desert.

Those territories make up 30 percent of Syria’s landmass and the fact that the Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition hasn’t tried to ‘liberate’ those areas up till now is due to the American presence there.

Maintaining control over the Kurdish canton’s in north and north east Syria as well as keeping a foothold in eastern Syria is vital for the new US strategy for Syria and important for Israel which is very concerned about the Iranian activities in Syria.

At the beginning of August Iran finalized the creation of a land bridge which stretches from the Iranian border in the Nineve province, Iraq, via Syria all the way up to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.

This happened after the pro-Assad coalition finished off the last pockets of mainly Islamist resistance along the Jordanian and Israeli border in southern Syria.

“Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shiite militias reportedly played a key role in re-capturing the region along the border despite Russian assurances they would be kept away from the Israeli border and denials by the Assad regime the Iranian trained and funded forces were taking part in the battle,” we reported at the time.

This was later confirmed by Orit Perlov of the Institute for National Security Studies who wrote in a recent research paper how the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps has transformed the Syrian military and is calling the shots in every major battle against rebels.

“Iran, not Russia, is the dominant actor in Syria,” Perlov wrote, while adding that the Islamic Republic “controls the Syria- Iraq and Syria-Lebanon border crossings, and tailors the re-organization of areas and communities based on an ethnic element.”

Iran has built the Syrian National Defense Forces which today have 90,000 Shiite and Alawite fighters at their disposal.

Qassem Soleimani, the shrewd commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force who is in charge with expanding the Islamic revolution in the Middle East also brought Shiite militias from Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan into the Syrian fray while the Quds Force has approximately 5,000 fighters in Syria.

Perlov reported that Shiite militias in Syria – among them Hezbollah – simply changed uniforms after the Russians, Americans and Israel demanded they would stay out of the fighting along the Israeli border.

The INSS researcher thinks Israel currently prefers to ignore the Iranian built-up along its northern border an instead focuses on the prevention of “the consolidation of substantial Iranian military capabilities in Syria.”

Bolton addressed the Israel military activity against Iran in Syria during the press conference in Jerusalem.

The Israeli air force acted “everytime Iran has brought missiles or other threatening weapons into Syria,” Bolton said while adding he saw those strikes as “a legitimate act of self-defense.”

After the return of Assad’s forces to the area along the Israeli border became a fact Israel appears to have changed its strategy in Syria and is now appparently targeting commanders who are working with Soleimani on preparations for a future war against the Jewish state.

On August 18, the head of Ahmad Issa Habib, a high ranking Syrian officer who was in charge of Assad’s ‘Palestine Department’ was assassinated in his car while driving in the Hama region in northwest Syria.

Unnamed Syrian sources told Israel’s army radio ‘Galatz’ Habib was Assad’s point man for the struggle against Israel.

Habib’s assassination came two weeks after the Mossad reportedly killed Syria’s top missile scientist  Aziz Asbar who died when a bomb in his car exploded.

Asbar  had “free access to the highest levels of the Syrian and Iranian governments, and his own security detail. He led a top-secret weapons-development unit called Sector 4 and was hard at work building an underground weapons factory,” Ronen Bergman one of Israel’s top investigative reporters wrote in the New York Times on August 6.

Iran, meanwhile, threatened to attack Israel again whenever the Trump Administration decides to embark on a military campaign against the Islamic Republic and continues building up forces which have to consolidate its foothold in both Iraq and Syria.

The Iranian-found Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias in Iraq has now seized the west of the Anbar province in Iraq which borders on Syria and the main routes to Syria while purging the area of anti-Iranian elements.

The new Hash al-Shaabi operation in Iraq is overseen by Suleimani who last week vowed Iran would crush the United States and was responsible for the founding of a new Syrian force dubbed the “Golan Liberation Brigade”