Archive for January 17, 2020

Prospects of a wider Mideast conflict – Jerusalem Studio 480 

January 17, 2020

 

 

The Sinai Campaign – 1956 

January 17, 2020

Credit: Kings and generals

Using animated 3d icons representing opposing forces, this documentary does a superb job of tracking the prioress of this strange war when Israel was allied with Britain and France. Using animated 3d icons representing opposing forces, this documentary does a superb job of tracking the prioress of this fast victory, ultimately undone by President Eisenhower.

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After the 1948 War of Independence, during which the Arab nations surrounding Israel attacked the new state in an effort to prevent its establishment, the people of Israel focused on building their country.

But these efforts were diverted by countless terrorist incursions, namely “fadayun” infiltrating the Israeli-Egyptian border. Israel was forced to adopt measures to halt these attacks. In addition, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian president, nationalized the Suez Canal (which had previously been administered by Britain and France) and closed its waters to Israeli shipping. This effectively cut off Israel’s ability to trade with much of the world.

In a sweeping operation of 100 hours, the IDF took control of the entire Sinai peninsula, under the skilled command of Lt. Gen. Moshe Dayan.

Born in 1915 in Degania, Israel’s first kibbutz, Moshe Dayan fought as a teenager in the battle for Israel’s independence. After excelling in his military career, he was appointed the IDF’s fourth Chief of General Staff in 1953 and went on to serve as Israel’s Minister of Defense.

The IDF’s successful paratroop landing into the eastern approaches of the Mitla Pass near the Suez Canal (the first paratroop landing in Israel’s military history) launched the Sinai Campaign at 17:00 on the Octobe 29, 1956. Once on the ground, IDF forces advanced through southern and central axes into the Sinai peninsula.

The next day, October 30, an IDF reserve brigade, equipped with requisitioned civilian buses, negotiated the difficult desert track through the Peninsula and captured Sharm el-Sheikh at the southernmost tip of the Sinai peninsula. Britain and France then joined the IDF’s war efforts on November 1, launching a devastating strike on the Egyptian Air Force, which until that point had been engaged in battle with the Israeli Air Force, leaving it virtually incapacitated.

On November 2, a battalion of the Nahal Brigade achieved the second significant victory of the war by parachuting into El-Tor under the command of Mordechai Gur (later to become the IDF’s tenth Chief of Staff). The battalion was met on the ground by the Paratrooper’s 890th Battalion. This landing marked the completion of Israel’s control over the Sinai Peninsula, though the territory conquered during the Campaign was promptly transferred to Egyptian hands.

Though Israel lost 171 soldiers in battle, the Sinai Campaign is considered an impressive military success, having achieved its initial goal of halting the terror attacks emanating from Israel’s shared border with Egypt. After the success of the Sinai Campaign, Lt. Gen. Moshe Dayan continued to contribute to the state of Israel and played a key role in four wars, as well as helping to negotiate Israel’s historic peace treaty with Egypt.

Amid internal unrest, Khamenei says Trump is a ‘clown’ who will betray Iranians

January 17, 2020

Source: Amid internal unrest, Khamenei says Trump is a ‘clown’ who will betray Iranians | The Times of Israel

Nation’s top leader says outpouring of grief for slain general shows Iranians support Islamic Republic; claims missile attack in Iraq was a ‘blow to America’s image’

In this file photo released on May 22, 2019 by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks to a group of students in Tehran, Iran (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader said US President Donald Trump is a “clown” who only pretends to support the Iranian people, as he addressed Friday prayers In Tehran for the first time since 2012.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Trump will “push a poisonous dagger” into the nation’s back. He said the outpouring of grief at the funeral for Iran’s top general, who was killed in a US airstrike earlier this month, shows that Iranians support the Islamic Republic.

Khamenei said America had “cowardly” killed the most effective commander in the fight against the Islamic State group when it killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the deputy commander of the extraterritorial Quds Force, in a US airstrike in Baghdad.

In response, Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles targeting US troops in Iraq, without causing serious injuries. Khamenei said the missile attack was a “blow to America’s image” as a superpower. In part of the sermon delivered in Arabic, he said the “real punishment” would be in forcing the US to withdraw from the Middle East.

As Iran’s Revolutionary Guard braced for an American counterattack that never came, it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian jetliner shortly after it took off from Tehran’s international airport, killing all 176 passengers on board, mostly Iranians.

A bulldozer seen working as rescue workers search the scene where an Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Khamenei called the shoot-down of the plane a “bitter accident” that saddened Iran as much as it made its enemies happy. He said it should not overshadow Soleimani’s “sacrifice” for the country.

He said Iran’s enemies had seized on the crash to question the Islamic Republic, the Revolutionary Guard and the armed forces. “Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad … happy that they found something to question the Guards, the armed forces, the system,” he said.

Khamenei said the Quds Force, which supports terror groups in the region including Hezbollah and Hamas, “should be considered a humanitarian organization… its members are fighters without borders.”

He also lashed out at Western countries, saying they are too weak to “bring Iranians to their knees.” He said Britain, France and Germany, which this week triggered a dispute mechanism to try and bring Iran back into compliance with the unraveling 2015 nuclear agreement, were “contemptible” governments and “servants” of the United States.

He said Iran was willing to negotiate, but not with the United States.

Thousands of people attended the Friday prayers, occasionally interrupting his speech by chanting “God is greatest!” and “Death to America!”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has held the country’s top office since 1989 and has the final say on all major decisions. The 80-year-old leader openly wept at the funeral of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and vowed “harsh retaliation” against the United States.

Authorities concealed their role in the tragedy for three days, initially blaming the crash on a technical problem. Their admission of responsibility triggered days of street protests, which security forces dispersed with live ammunition and tear gas.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have steadily escalated since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which had imposed restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Iranians walk past a poster of slain military commander Qassem Soleimani off a main square in the Islamic Republic’s capital Tehran on January 11, 2020. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

The White House has since imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, including its vital oil and gas industry, pushing the country into an economic crisis that has ignited several waves of sporadic, leaderless protests. Trump has openly encouraged the protesters — even tweeting in Farsi — hoping that the protests and the sanctions will bring about fundamental change in a longtime adversary.

After Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad, Iran announced it would no longer be bound by the limitations in the nuclear agreement. European countries who have been trying to salvage the deal responded earlier this week by invoking a dispute mechanism that is aimed at bringing Iran back into compliance and could result in even more sanctions.

Iranian students gather for a demonstration over the downing of a Ukrainian airliner at Tehran University on January 14, 2020. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Khamenei was always skeptical of the nuclear agreement, arguing that the United States could not be trusted. But he allowed President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, to conclude the agreement with President Barack Obama. Since Trump’s withdrawal, he has said there can be no negotiations with the United States.

Khamenei last delivered a Friday sermon in February 2012, when he called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and vowed to support anyone confronting it. He also warned against any US strikes on Iran over its nuclear program, saying the US would be damaged “10 times over.”

 

IDF strikes Hamas in Gaza in response to explosive balloons from Strip 

January 17, 2020

Source: IDF strikes Hamas in Gaza in response to explosive balloons from Strip | The Times of Israel

Israeli helicopter hits terror infrastructure in northern part of Palestinian territory, army says, following at least 2 airborne bombs landing in southern Israel

Illustrative: An Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 27, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Illustrative: An Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 27, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israeli aircraft attacked targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday for the second day in a row, as tensions rose on the volatile border.

The strikes came in response to explosives-laden balloons that were sent from Gaza into Israel earlier in the day.

“A short time ago an IDF combat helicopter attacked infrastructure used for underground activity by the Hamas terror organization in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack was carried out in response to explosive balloons sent from the Gaza Strip into Israel territory today,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

There were no immediate reports from Gaza on damage or casualties in the strikes.

חדשות 13

@newsisrael13

דיווחים פלסטיניים: חיל האוויר תוקף בצפון רצועת עזה • @bokeralmog ו-@LiranHaroni עם כל הפרטים >> https://bit.ly/2TqQzgu 

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חדשות 13

@newsisrael13

תיעוד: תקיפת חיל האוויר בצפון רצועת עזה @OrHeller

(צילום: דדי פולד, משתלת בן בן)

Embedded video

Video published by Israel’s Kan news purported to show Hamas members leaving a post ahead of the strike.

כאן חדשות

תיעוד: אנשי חמאס נמלטים מהעמדה בצפון הרצועה, לפני התקיפה@Itsik_zuarets (צילום: דדי פולד)

Embedded video

Earlier Thursday, at least two clusters of balloons carrying explosive devices were apparently launched from the Strip into southern Israel, with one of them detonating soon after impact, police said.

One of the clusters landed in an open field and the other got tangled in a tree.

Police sappers were called to the scenes in the Sdot Negev region east of Gaza.

One of the devices exploded as the sappers arrived at the scene, causing no injuries or damage, police said.

The sappers collected the remains of the device in order to study what type of explosives were used, a police spokesperson said.

The tactic of launching balloons carrying explosive and arson devices from Gaza into Israel emerged in 2018 as part of a series of protests and riots along the Strip’s border, known collectively as the March of Return. The simple and cheap method of attack by Palestinians has proved effective as Israeli security forces have struggled to counter the tactic, but had largely stopped over half a year ago.

On Wednesday evening, police sappers were dispatched to the border town of Sderot where a suspicious object attached to a cluster of balloons landed in a residential neighborhood.

A cluster of balloons carrying a suspected explosive device launched from the Gaza Strip that landed in southern Israel on January 16, 2020. (Courtesy)

It appeared to mark the renewal of the arson balloon attacks that torched thousands of acres of Israeli fields along the Gaza border in recent years.

That incident came after terrorists — reportedly belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group — also on Wednesday fired four mortar shells from Gaza toward southern Israel, causing neither injury nor damage, according to the army.

Two of the incoming projectiles were intercepted by the military’s Iron Dome air defense system. The other two appeared to strike open fields in Israel’s Sha’ar Hanegev region, east of northern Gaza.

Hours later, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of strikes on Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip. According to the IDF, fighter jets attacked several Hamas facilities, including a weapons production site and a military base.

The mortar attack shattered a period of relative calm along the border.

Palestinian youth prepare incendiary balloons, to send to Israel east of Bureij refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip, on May 31, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/ Flash90)

Earlier this week, alarms sounded in Nahal Oz, apparently due to heavy machine gun fire from the coastal enclave.

But the last several months have seen relative calm along the border following a two-day flareup in November, though sporadic rocket attacks have persisted.

Israel has reportedly warned the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups against any attempted response to the US targeted killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani earlier this month.

 

Rouhani says Iran enriching more uranium than before nuclear deal

January 17, 2020

Source: Rouhani says Iran enriching more uranium than before nuclear deal | The Times of Israel

Islamic Republic president says his government working to prevent confrontation or war; dialogue with world powers difficult but ‘possible’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, January 14, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, January 14, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday the country is now enriching more uranium than it was before a 2015 deal with world powers that was supposed to scale back its nuclear activities, and in particular enrichment.

“We are enriching more uranium than before the deal was reached,” Rouhani said in a televised speech according to the Reuters news agency. “Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress.”

Rouhani also said he is working “daily to prevent war” as relations between Tehran and Washington go through a new period of maximum tension.

“The government is working daily to prevent a military confrontation or war,” he said, insisting that though dialogue between Iran and the world was difficult, it was still “possible.”

The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, seeks to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon — something Iran insists it does not want to do — by putting curbs on its atomic program in exchange for economic incentives.

After one of its top generals was killed in a US drone attack earlier this month, Iran announced that it would no longer respect limits set on how many centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium. Tehran said the new move was a “remedial step” in line with the deal and that it could be reversed.

In response Britain, France and Germany, the three European Union signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal on Tuesday triggered the accord’s dispute mechanism to stop Iran violating the pact and ratcheting up pressure on the Islamic Republic.

The launching of the dispute mechanism marked a last-ditch effort between the European states and Iran to resolve their differences through talks, while also starting a process that could bring back punishing United Nations sanctions on Tehran.

On Wednesday, in response to the European countries triggering the dispute mechanism, Rouhani appeared to threaten European soldiers in the Middle East.

“Today, the American soldier is in danger, tomorrow the European soldier could be in danger,” he said, without elaborating.

Technicians work at the Arak heavy water reactor’s secondary circuit, as officials and media visit the site, near Arak, 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, December 23, 2019. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

The nuclear agreement has been on life support since US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out in 2018, triggering sanctions that have hurt Iran’s moribund economy, and in particular its key oil exports. Since then, Tehran has gradually rolled back its commitment to the deal, upping its enrichment actions and installing new centrifuges to speed up the process. Experts warn that Iran’s measures are reducing the breakout time it needs to produce a nuclear weapon.

Washington says the original pact was insufficient and should be renegotiated because it didn’t address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its involvement in regional conflicts. The US has said it is prepared to hold talks with Iran without preconditions, but Tehran has insisted that there be some sanctions relief before it will sit down at the table.

The current tensions between Iran and the US reached fever pitch two weeks ago with the American drone strike in Baghdad that killed the powerful Revolutionary Guard general Hassan Soleimani. The general had led Iranian proxy forces abroad, including those blamed for deadly roadside bomb attacks on US troops in Iraq.

Iran retaliated with a ballistic missile strike targeting Iraqi military bases housing US forces early last Wednesday, just before an anti-aircraft battery mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people on board.

 

Pentagon acknowledges 11 US troops were hurt in Iran missile strike 

January 17, 2020

Source: Pentagon acknowledges 11 US troops were hurt in Iran missile strike | The Times of Israel

Military says soldiers airlifted to Germany and Kuwait to be treated for concussion from blasts, despite US earlier saying no troops were injured in Jan 8 attack

US Soldiers stand at a site of Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP/Qassim Abdul-Zahra)

US Soldiers stand at a site of Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP/Qassim Abdul-Zahra)

The US military acknowledged Thursday that 11 soldiers were wounded in an Iranian missile strike on a US base in Iraq, despite previously saying that there had been no injuries.

“While no US service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” a statement from the US Central Command said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, service members were transported from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for follow-on screening. When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening,” the statement added.

Spokesperson for US Central Command, Capt. Bill Urban, said eight soldiers were transported to Germany and three were sent to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait for “follow-on screening.”

A picture taken on January 13, 2020 during a press tour shows a view of the damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing US and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. following an Iranian missile attack (Ayman HENNA / AFP)

“As a standard procedure, all personnel in the vicinity of a blast are screened for traumatic brain injury, and if deemed appropriate are transported to a higher level of care,” Urban said in a statement.

At the time of the attack, most of the 1,500 US soldiers at the base had been tucked away in bunkers, after advance warning from superiors.

Top US officials, including US President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said several times that there were no US casualties in the missiles strikes on two US bases that came as an Iranian response to the January 3 drone strike that killed senior Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Military officials explained the discrepancy, saying that their symptoms had only recently developed

“Symptoms emerged days after the fact, and they were treated out of an abundance of caution,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told CNN. “We corrected the record today,” he said. The Office of the Secretary of Defense “learned about these injuries today and directed a statement go out immediately.”

Iranians fired a total of 16 missiles strikes, US officials said. Eleven hit the airbase, in Iraq’s western Anbar province, and one targeted the base in Irbil, in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The missiles were described as likely short-range with 1,000- to 2,000-pound warheads. Four failed to detonate.

Iran had claimed 80 US soldiers were killed in the strikes.

A picture taken on January 13, 2020 during a press tour shows a view of the damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing US and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. following an Iranian missile attack (Ayman HENNA / AFP)

Ain al-Asad was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and it later was used by American troops in the fight against the Islamic State group. It houses about 1,500 US and coalition forces. Trump visited it in December 2018, making his first presidential visit to troops in the region. Vice President Mike Pence visited both Ain al-Asad and Irbil in November.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday he wants to avoid war after Tehran and Washington appeared on the brink of direct military confrontation in early January for the second time in less than a year.

Ahead of parliamentary elections on February 21 — predicted to be a challenge for Rouhani’s camp — and amid high tensions between Tehran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program, the president said dialogue with the world was still “possible.”

“The government is working daily to prevent military confrontation or war,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Rouhani said the strike amounted to “compensation” for the death of Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s Middle East military strategy.

The tensions between the two enemies seemed to subside in the wake of the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger airliner hours after the retaliatory strikes, as Iran was on high alert for US reprisals.

The tragedy killed 176 people, mostly Iranians and Canadians.

 

US forces withdraw from NATO March drill in Norway due to Mid-East tension – DEBKAfile

January 17, 2020

Source: US forces withdraw from NATO March drill in Norway due to Mid-East tension – DEBKAfile

The 3,000 US troops assigned to NATO’s biannual “Cold Response” March exercise in Norway will not take part due to “enhanced American engagement in the Middle East.”

The force, mainly Marines, are to be relocated to the troubled region amid tense relations with Iran. The Pentagon notified this change of plan to the Norwegian Armed Forces HQ on Thursday, Jan. 16.

NATO has held the Cold Response drill every other year since 2006 in the southern part of Troms and Finnnmark region some hundreds of kilometers from the Russian border. It is designed for joint multinational operations in an environment of high-intensity battle amid challenging winter conditions. It also has a high focus on the landing of marine forces with landing ships and helicopters to attack enemy positions.

The conditions the US troops will encounter on their Middle East mission are just the reverse, the arid deserts of Iraq and Syria, calling for a Hot Response.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that US planners, by withdrawing from the NATO exercise scheduled for March, are clearly preparing for a drawn-out engagement with Iran and its allied Iraqi militias, which are bent on extended revenge for the assassinations by the US of leading general Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Most of the forthcoming clashes are expected by intelligence sources to be concentrated in Iraq, with local militias staging guerrilla operations against US forces and bases.

The stream of military equipment and weaponry from Iran to Iraq has accelerated in the last few days. Tons of IED roadside bombs are included in the consignments.