Archive for January 13, 2019

Iran: Nasrallah sick? ‘Biggest lie of the year’

January 13, 2019

Source: Iran: Nasrallah sick? ‘Biggest lie of the year’ – Israel National News

Adviser to Iranian parliament speaker blasts ‘Zionist claims’ that Hezbollah leader is suffering from health problems.

Tal Polon, 13/01/19 14:29
Hassan Nasrallah

Hassan Nasrallah

Reuters

An adviser to the Iranian speaker of parliament rejected reports that Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, was suffering from health problems.

Israeli media cited Lebanese reports over the weekend saying that Nasrallah was hospitalized in Beirut, having suffered a heart attack, while other reports added that he is also fighting cancer.

Nasrallah has not been seen in the media since November, and there has been speculation that his long public absence is tied to the IDF’s launch of “Operation Northern Shield” to neutralize Hezbollah terror tunnels infiltrating Israel. The reports on Nasrallah’s health would seem to provide another explanation for his absence.

According to Kan, however, reports that Nasrallah is sick were soundly rejected by the Special Adviser to Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who called such an assertion “the biggest lie of the year.”

“The recent claims by the Zionists that Nasrallah is sick are the biggest lie of the year,” he wrote.

 

White House ordered plans prepared for Iran strike – report 

January 13, 2019

Source: White House ordered plans prepared for Iran strike – report | The Times of Israel

‘Shocked’ Pentagon acceded to request after Baghdad mortar attack in September that US blamed on Tehran-backed militias, Wall Street Journal says

A US Navy F-35 fighter jet during a test flight. (US Navy/Wikimedia Commons)

A US Navy F-35 fighter jet during a test flight. (US Navy/Wikimedia Commons)

Following a September mortar attack near the US embassy in Baghdad that Washington blamed on Iran, US National Security Adviser John Bolton and the National Security Council he leads requested that the Pentagon provide options for striking Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The Pentagon did so, though the report said it was not clear what became of those plans and how close such a potential strike actually was, or if US President Donald Trump was even aware of the exchange.

Still, officials in the Pentagon and State Department were said to have been shocked by the offhand nature of the request — to provide plans for military action against a major regional power in response to a minor attack that caused no casualties.

“It definitely rattled people,” a former senior official in the administration told the paper. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

US National Security Advisor John Bolton unveils the Trump administration’s Africa Strategy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, December 13, 2018. (Cliff Owen/AP)

A spokesman for the NSC told the paper that the council “coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats.”

Bolton is known for his particularly hawkish stances, and prior to his appointment as national security adviser had advocated preemptive strikes against North Korea and war with Iran.

In September he warned Iran of “hell to pay” and “serious consequences” if it acts against the US, using some of the most aggressive language employed by administration officials in recent decades.

The US embassy in Baghdad, Iraq seen from across the Tigris river on May 19, 2007. (AP/File)

He was also a major voice inside the George W. Bush administration in favor of the 2003 Iraq invasion. In the past he has also advocated for Israel bombing Iran to curtail its nuclear ambitions.

His combative approach to global conflict was previously seen as somewhat mitigated by the moderating voice of James Mattis, but the US defense secretary’s resignation last month has opened the door to more hardline policies by the administration.

The mortar attack in Baghdad, on September 7, saw three shells hit the ultra-secure green zone, which houses Iraqi authorities and the US embassy.

Washington blamed militias supported by Iran, and said it would “respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives,” though no action by US forces since has been directly linked to that attack.

Agencies contributed to this report.

 

IDF ends northern tunnel operation, strikes Gaza tunnels. Hizballah, Hamas threats remain – DEBKAfile

January 13, 2019

Source: IDF ends northern tunnel operation, strikes Gaza tunnels. Hizballah, Hamas threats remain – DEBKAfile

The IDF marked the end of Operation Northern Shield on Sunday, Jan. 13 by finding a sixth Hizballah cross-border tunnel, two days before Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot hands over the of Chief of Staff’s baton to his successor, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. It was the second “terror tunnel” found running from the Lebanese town of Ramaya. It was not in operational condition.

The timing was fitting, Gen. Eisenkot has hailed this operation as the crowning achievement of his four-year team as the head of Israel’s Defense Forces – a high evaluation not shared by most of the IDF high command. In fact, it was no more than a stop-go effort with few results. Above all, the operation which was meant to support a major Israeli diplomatic effort to disrupt the commanding influence Hizballah wields over the Lebanese government and army, failed to drive a wedge between them.

Nonetheless, in his parting interviews, Eisenkot claimed that Hizballah had dug those underground structures for its plan to smuggle 1,000-1,500 special operations troops into Israel, capture an Israeli village and retain it under cover of artillery fire. That scenario is hardly credible for four reasons:

  1. Hizballah devised this plan more than 10 years ago and has since moved on.
  2. Operation Northern Shield did not uncover a working tunnel network, or even a single passage large enough to carry a large force.
  3. No more than 6 tunnels, which the IDF had known about for years, were finally located, although the original military communiques spoke of sixteen.
  4. The operation focused on mostly defunct tunnels, whereas the main threat which is very much alive was unaddressed. A year ago, Hizballah threw up  mockup  models of Israeli villages on the Lebanese-Syrian border to train its special Redwan forces for operations to storm overland across the border and seize IDF bases and civilian villages in Upper and Western Galilee. The IDF is therefore racing against time to build a strong wall along the Lebanese border, but has run into topographic impediments for the barrier to extend its full length. Operation Northern Shield was therefore of no relevance to the contemporary Hizballah threat.

In one interview, Eisenkot was asked about the destruction of the chain of observation and surveillance positions which Hizballah has deployed in Syria opposite the Israel Golan. He replied: “That line is no longer there.”  The difficulty with this reply is that not only Hizballah, but also members of the five militias Iran is establishing in Syria have begun taking up position opposite the Golan. DEBKAfile was the the first publication last year to uncover the ruse they employ of awarding these foreign pro-Iranian combatants Syrian army uniforms and IDs. They currently pose as members of the regular Syrian army stationed along the Israeli border. This subterfuge makes it almost impossible to differentiate between them.

In the Gaza Strip Saturday night, Israeli warplanes struck two Hamas “underground structures.” The IDF spokesman released this enigmatic statement without elaborating. Neither did he explain why, all of a sudden, after ten months in which Hamas had kept southern Israel under sporadic hails from Gaza of rockets, mortar shelling, incendiary balloons and ground assaults, the IDF command had decided to go for more telling targets than routine empty Hamas bases and lookout towers. This operation was accompanied by a caution to Hamas by an anonymous “senior official” that the monthly Qatari grant of $15m for January had not been cancelled, only frozen. In other words, the protection racket for buying Hamas’ non-escalation of violence against Israel goes on.

 

Pompeo: Good outcome possible for both Turks, Syrian Kurds 

January 13, 2019

Source: Pompeo: Good outcome possible for both Turks, Syrian Kurds – Israel Hayom

 

Nasrallah suffers heart attack, stroke, Lebanese media reports 

January 13, 2019

Source: Nasrallah suffers heart attack, stroke, Lebanese media reports – Israel Hayom

 

IDF uncovers sixth tunnel, completes operation on northern border 

January 13, 2019

Source: IDF uncovers sixth tunnel, completes operation on northern border – Israel Hayom

 

Netanyahu confirms IDF strike on Iranian targets in Damascus 

January 13, 2019

Source: Netanyahu confirms IDF strike on Iranian targets in Damascus – Israel Hayom