Posted tagged ‘Defense of Israel’

Syrian mortars again fall on Golan despite Israel’s warnings

June 25, 2017

Syrian mortars again fall on Golan despite Israel’s warnings, DEBKAfile, June 25, 2017

In the face of strong warnings by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Syrian mortars again spilled over to the Golan Sunday for the second day in a row. There was no damage or casualties this time too. IDF tanks opened fire on Syrian positions in the Quneitra area, which the Israeli air force targeted the day before. Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu stated at the weekly cabinet meeting: “Our policy is clear. We will not tolerate any kind of ‘trickle, not of mortars, rockets, or spillover fire [from the Syrian Civil War]. We shall respond forcefully to every attack.”

Netanyahu also repeated: “We also view with utmost gravity Iran’s attempts to establish itself militarily in Syria as well as its attempts to arm Hezbollah – via Syria and Lebanon – with advanced weaponry.

Hezbollah Sure Sounds Like it’s Afraid of an Israeli Attack

April 21, 2017

Hezbollah Sure Sounds Like it’s Afraid of an Israeli Attack, Front Page Magazine (The Point), Daniel Greenfield, April 21, 2017

Hezbollah has been bleeding rather badly in Syria. And the casualties are bad enough that many of its Jihadists don’t want to report for duty. Hezbollah has a paper force. People are listed who won’t actually fight. Because their opponents aren’t going to be afraid of their human shields or will pull back when the UN and the State Department barks. 

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You don’t have to be a great student of human psychology to pick up on it.

A Hezbollah commander on Thursday guided a group of journalists on a tour of the Israel-Lebanon border, according to media reports.

“We’re not afraid of war,” Israel’s Channel 2 quoted him as saying. “The enemy understands this. We are firm in our positions…We will not hesitate to go to war and are even expecting it. We will fight when we are compelled to and we will win.”

We’re not afraid to fight! And we won’t hesitate to fight… if we have to fight. So you better not fight us because we’re not at all afraid to fight you. Really. And it would be foolish of you to fight us.

 Israel has been deterred by Hezbollah and it would be “foolish and reckless” for the Jewish state to launch a military campaign on its northern border, the Lebanese terror group’s deputy leader claimed on Thursday.

Qassem also expressed confidence regarding the terror organization’s readiness and capabilities in any future conflict with Israel, saying, “The level of Hezbollah’s readiness enables it to withstand any possible war, both numerically and in terms of means and goals.”

Sure.

Hezbollah has been bleeding rather badly in Syria. And the casualties are bad enough that many of its Jihadists don’t want to report for duty. Hezbollah has a paper force. People are listed who won’t actually fight. Because their opponents aren’t going to be afraid of their human shields or will pull back when the UN and the State Department barks.

Fighting fellow Islamic terrorists is much less fun than fighting Israel. But Hezbollah’s manpower is badly overextended in an Islamic civil war against enemies as cruel and treacherous as themselves.

Lebanese Columnist Warns: Any Hizbullah Aggression Against Israel Will Be Disastrous For Lebanon More Than Anyone Else

April 3, 2017

Lebanese Columnist Warns: Any Hizbullah Aggression Against Israel Will Be Disastrous For Lebanon More Than Anyone Else, MEMRI, April 3, 2017

In an article titled “Does Hizbullah Threaten Israel or Us” in the  English-language Saudi daily Arab News, Lebanese columnist Diana Moukalled commented on the recent escalation in Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s threats against Israel, including his threat to target Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona.[1] She assessed that this escalation in Nasrallah’s rhetoric is an attempt to make up for Hizbullah’s military losses in Syria and to garner popular support in light of the decline in Hizbullah’s and Iran’s global standing. She also noted that his threat to target the reactor is irresponsible because thousands of Palestinian and Israeli civilians live near it. Noting that Iran often uses Lebanon as an arena for its “adventures,” she warned that the current political climate might prompt Iran and Hizbullah to renew their aggression against Israel – which would be catastrophic for Lebanon, even more so than in previous confrontations.

The following are excerpts from her article:[2]

Diana Moukalled (image: twitter.com/dianamoukalled)

“Israel has reacted to recent statements by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with a mixture of mockery and cynicism, as he said Hezbollah was ready to bomb the Dimona nuclear reactor or ammonia tanks. Israeli websites reported military discussions indicating that Israel believes Hezbollah is facing a dilemma over aid and funds due to the fighting in Syria.

“In the past, Israel dealt more seriously and carefully with Hezbollah threats and movements, but this has seemingly changed. I am in no way praising Israel, an occupying racist state, or minimizing its danger as an aggressor. Rather, this is an attempt to understand the whirlwind of rhetoric recently launched by Nasrallah, which affects Lebanese, Palestinians and others living mere kilometers from the Dimona reactor.

“Everyone, primarily Hezbollah, knows that the results of any war or military action against Israel will be catastrophic. Nasrallah may have learned this lesson, since the southern front with Israel has been calm since the end of the last war 11 years ago.

“As such, escalating rhetoric to target nuclear reactors — near to which thousands of Palestinian and Israeli civilians live, and would be harmed by substantial radioactive fallout — is at the very least irresponsible and no more than a popular mobilization attempt.

“But these empty slogans seem more necessary today than ever, as Nasrallah’s words seem to be an attempt to rebuild a combat position against Israel and make up for Hezbollah’s losses in Syria. This approach seems logical given the view that rapid political developments and the international consensus around Syria will lead to Hezbollah’s exit from the country. This would result in an Iranian response wherever it can do so.

“In a realistic characterization of current politics, now is not the time to make decisions, but to make a show of force and assemble cards to be presented while waiting for a clearer understanding of US regional policy. Continued escalation against Iran and its influence in Syria may lead to Tehran and Hezbollah reverting to a policy of confrontation, including against Israel. Where better than Lebanon as a gateway for new Iranian adventures?

“But the situation is not as it was during the 2006 war, as Israel says its response will be massive against Hezbollah and Lebanon if Hezbollah takes military action against it. This threat includes Israel’s preparedness to target all Lebanese territory. Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s comments that Hezbollah’s weapons complement the role of the army serve as a pretext for Israel to target the army as well.

“The appropriate conditions to target Hezbollah will come soon, but Israel is in no rush for military action as it is monitoring Hezbollah’s financial, moral and military depletion in Syria, amid Arab hostility toward Hezbollah, compared with support in 2006, due to its regional role at Iran’s behest. Any threat posed by Hezbollah will affect Lebanese before anyone else, and more severely than in previous wars and crises.”

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[1] In a February 16, 2017 address aired on Al-Mayadeen TV, Nasrallah called on Israel “not just to move the ammonia facility out of Haifa, but to dismantle the nuclear plant in Dimona,” saying: “They know what will become of them and of their [Zionist] entity if missiles hit that plant.” See MEMRI TV Clip No. 5896, “Hizbullah Secretary-General Nasrallah Threatens Missile Attack on Israeli Ammonia Facilities and Dimona Nuclear Plant,” February 16, 2017.

[2] Arab News (Saudi Arabia), February 26, 2017.

Will Trump back Israel in the next war?

February 10, 2017

Will Trump back Israel in the next war? Israel Hay0m, Ruthie Blum, February 10, 2017

Analysts on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean — and of the political spectrum — have been scrutinizing every syllable uttered by members of the new administration in Washington to determine whether U.S. President Donald Trump is as good a friend to the Jewish state as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes.

So far, four issues have been discussed and debated ad nauseam: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley’s pronouncement that her government would not abandon Israel at the world body, as the Obama administration did when it enabled the passage of Security Council Resolution 2234, which deemed all Jewish presence beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines illegal; the nomination of David Friedman — a settlements sympathizer who supports relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — as U.S. ambassador to Israel; a recent Trump administration warning that Israeli settlement construction could be potentially harmful to peace negotiations toward Palestinian statehood (the “two-state solution”); and the omission of any mention of Jews in the statement issued by the administration on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Where the bigger picture is concerned, Israel is observing Team Trump’s behavior toward Iran, telling Tehran that its saber-rattling and ballistic missile tests will incur serious consequences; imposing new sanctions on the mullah-led regime; and openly weighing the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

But the one question that has not been raised is how the Trump administration will respond when Israel is forced to go to war, yet again, with Hamas in Gaza and/or with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Middle East experts have been predicting, albeit cautiously, that neither scenario is likely in the near future, due to the internal difficulties each terrorist group is currently experiencing. Hezbollah is deeply entrenched in the Syrian civil war, and has already lost many of its men in the fighting. Hamas is suffering from a loss of income, as a number of European countries begin to reconsider the process of transferring cash earmarked for the rehabilitation of Gaza, which ends up paying for the rebuilding and enhancement of tunnel and rocket infrastructure.

Recent developments indicate, however, that more serious military action — in addition to retaliatory IDF moves following errant or aimed fire on Israel from just beyond its southern and northern borders — may be unavoidable.

This week, a Haifa court ordered the temporary closure of the city’s 12,000-ton ammonia tank, pending further discussion on Sunday. This was after the municipality requested that it be shut down completely, following a report indicating that in any explosion, tens of thousands of people in the area would be killed. And since Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah threatened in February to attack it, residents of the region have been living in fear.

Meanwhile, over the past few days, Hezbollah has been engaging in a crowd-funding campaign on social media hashtagged “Money for jihad is a must,” with a video appeal featuring fighters and clerics asking people to donate to the “resistance.”

Though this is clearly a result of the organization’s dwindling resources, caused by its extended stint in Syria, Nasrallah’s deputy, Naim Qassem, said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Binaa that the group’s message to Israel remains the same: “We are willing to pay the price of the conflict. Are you?”

Hamas, too, has been busy threatening Israel online. In a new music video — titled “Zionist, You Will Die in Gaza” — the terrorist organization that reigns supreme in the enclave lodged between Israel and Egypt warns, “A rocket will come to you, Zionist, wherever you live. You will die sleeping, awake or on the mountain. I will make you drink from the glass of death; what a bitter taste.”

It would appear, then, that war is on the horizon.

During Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s battle against Hamas in Gaza in the summer of 2014, then-President Barack Obama said that though the Jewish state had a right to defend itself, it should exercise “restraint.”

In a meeting at his New York office with Jewish journalists during the U.S. presidential primaries, Trump was asked whether he agreed with the statement — made by Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders to the editorial board of the Daily News — that Israel had used “disproportionate force” in Gaza.

“When missiles are being shot into your country, I don’t know what ‘disproportionate force’ is supposed to mean,” he replied.

It is a matter of when — not if — this attitude in relation to Israel and its enemies is put to the test. So far, Netanyahu, who will be convening with Trump on Wednesday in the White House, has good reason to believe that Obama’s successor will pass it with flying colors.

Sunni States’ Military Spending Sprees Could Fall to Radical Islamists

February 7, 2017

Sunni States’ Military Spending Sprees Could Fall to Radical Islamists, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, February 7, 2017

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Faced with an array of developing threats to their stability and survival, Sunni Arab states have gone on an unprecedented military spending spree, buying up some of the very best capabilities the West has to offer. This development holds the potential for danger should these states be overrun by radical Islamists.

As long as the Sunni governments, guided by concerns over Iran, ISIS and other extremist actors, remain firmly in power, possessing high quality Western weapons in such large quantities will serve their goals of defending themselves.

But should the Sunni countries disintegrate into failed states, or undergo an Islamist revolution – an unfortunate yet distinct possibility in the 21st century, chaotic Middle East – Israel and the West could face an explosively dangerous development.

An organized Islamist rise to power would see the military forces of such states come under the command of belligerent decision makers. Alternatively, a failed state scenario would mean that military bases in these countries could be looted, and deadly platforms taken over.

Either way, the scenario of jihadists seizing game-changing military capabilities is real enough for Israel to acknowledge that it is planning ahead for it as a necessary precaution.

Outgoing Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel spoke explicitly of this danger on Jan. 24 at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

His air force must know how to act as a precise surgeon, Eshel said, able to conduct pinpoint strikes based on fine intelligence. But it also must be able to operate like a “big hammer” able to deal with large-scale threats. In the tumultuous Middle East, he said, it seems unreasonable to believe that the current situation will remain as it is. “In five, 10, or 15 years, states can fall,” he warned.

Eshel was referring to pragmatic Sunni states that, like Israel, are deeply threatened by Iran’s expanding radical Shi’ite axis, and by Salafi jihadist Sunni groups that are bent on destroying all countries that do not fit their vision of an extremist caliphate.

“Even if we have shared regional interests [with these Sunni countries now], we do not know what will happen in the future. Western military sales to these countries have reached $200 billion. This is state of the art weaponry. It is not just about the quantity,” Eshel said. It is the Air Force’s responsibility to assume that “something will collapse.”

Most of the Arab countries’ spending spree has gone into their air forces and surface-to-air missiles. The Israel Air Force must ensure it can deal with these capabilities, he added, in the event of future jihadist revolutions.

In the same week that Eshel spoke, the U.S. State Department announced the first weapons sales to Gulf states under the Trump administration, pending approval by Congress.

The sales reportedly include $400 million worth of helicopter gunship parts and air-to-air missiles to Kuwait, and $525 million for intelligence balloons to Saudi Arabia. ISIS has already built and deployed its own armed drones, according to reports, and if its goal of seizing control of state assets were realized, it could try to use some of the means on the battlefield.

Gulf Arab countries continue to break records in their rush to purchase military hardware. As part of its bid to deter Iran and boost its ability to hit the Islamic Republic’s capital, Tehran, Saudi Arabia modernized its missile arsenal in recent years, purchasing Chinese medium-range surface-to-surface missiles from China, in a deal reportedly facilitated by the CIA.

More recently, the Saudis, who are leading a coalition against Iran-backed Houthi Shi’ite rebels in Yemen, spent $179.1 billion on weapons in 2016, and intend to spend $190 billion in 2017.

Saudi Arabia in recent years has replaced Russia as the third largest defense spender in the world. Salafi jihadists would like nothing more than to topple the Saudi royal court, which they see as a Western puppet, and take control of Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.

Last September, the U.S. approved $7 billion worth of fighter jets (F-15s and F-18s) to Kuwait and Qatar, and more than $1 billion in F-16 sales to Bahrain.

Egypt, too, has joined the shopping rush, becoming the world’s fourth largest defense importer in 2016, buying up arms from the U.S. and France, as well as submarines from Germany.

Egypt, which is in a state of deep civil conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood, is also fighting a stubborn ISIS jihadist insurgency in its Sinai province. ISIS’ terror campaign has claimed many lives among Egyptian security forces, and threatens to spread to other areas of the country.

After the fall and disintegration of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, the idea that the Middle Eastern map will remain unaltered in the coming years is far from certain.

Had Israel, according to international media reports, not bombed Syria’s nuclear weapons production facility in Deir Al-Zor in 2007, the area, now filled with ISIS, could have seen nuclear weapons fall into the hands of genocidal jihadists.

Should Sunni states begin their own nuclear programs in response to Iran’s own future nuclear efforts, the danger of atomic bombs falling into Islamist hands would increase.

There is no alternative but to plan for such contingencies in the current unpredictable regional environment, where today’s rational states could be replaced by sinister forces tomorrow.

Can Israel’s new missile shield help it avoid an EMP attack?

January 23, 2017

Can Israel’s new missile shield help it avoid an EMP attack? Center for Security PolicyJakub Gorski, January 23, 2017

Arrow-3 interceptors have exo-atmospheric strike capabilities allowing it to shoot down ICBMs from space. This would allow Arrow-3 to shoot down the Safir. So with Arrow-3 Israel should be able to safeguard itself from an ICBM based EMP attack.

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On January 18 Israel launched the Arrow-3 interceptor, which gives the Israeli Air Force the capability to shoot down missiles from space. Arrow-3 joins Arrow-2, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome as part of the country’s multi-layered anti-ballistic missile shield.

Israel’s new anti-ballistic missile shield is designed to protect the country from Hamas and Hezbollah’s mid-range missiles as well as Iran’s long-range missiles. This upgraded missile defense shield should also be able to protect Israel from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

An EMP is a burst of electromagnetic energy that comes in three waves. The initial burst from an EMP wave is known as E1. It is faster than lighting and will damage control systems necessary for operations of things such as the electric grid. It essentially fries some components of small electric circuitry. The second wave (E2) is as fast and strong as lighting so it can be stopped with lighting protection, but many homes and businesses lack lightning protection. An E3 wave is the slowest, but also has the most energy and is capable of causing high-voltage transformers to melt. HV transformers are a necessary component of sub-stations and enable electricity to be carried across large areas.

An EMP strike can be achieved by detonating a nuclear weapon between 30 and 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, according to the Congressional Report on EMP attacks. This is high enough to avoid any physical or radiological damage to people and infrastructure, but low enough for an EMP burst that will shut down electronics in a radius of 600 to 2,000 km.

This is a realistic scenario based on intelligence community projections of Iran’s weapons capabilities. If Iran was to detonate a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere the resulting EMP would cover the whole of Israel. The resulting bursts would shut-down Israel’s vital infrastructure and render technology-dependent army largely inoperable leaving the country open to invasion.

There are thousands of Iranian fighters in Syria and Iraq, including members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, helping to prop-up their governments. A posture of provocative weakness for Israel under these conditions is definitely a driver of destabilization.

The U.S. cannot guarantee that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. Right now Iran could place such a nuclear weapon on ballistic missiles, but those can be shot down using Israel’s Arrow-2. The system cannot intercept ICBMs, which leaves Israel to an EMP attack from an ICBM missile.

Iran has already demonstrated the ability to fire satellites into space with the Safir rocket. For the Safir to be used as an ICBM its second stage has to be heavily modified and have a reentry vehicle. If Safir were to be used for an EMP attack it would not require a reentry vehicle.

All that would be necessary is for the Safir to have its second stage modified and then fired towards US and Israel.

However, Arrow-3 interceptors have exo-atmospheric strike capabilities allowing it to shoot down ICBMs from space. This would allow Arrow-3 to shoot down the Safir. So with Arrow-3 Israel should be able to safeguard itself from an ICBM based EMP attack.

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters

November 17, 2016

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters, Gatestone InstituteStephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen, November 17, 2016

For this reason, Israel concluded that the U.S. under Obama was not a reliable supplier of either helicopters or missiles.

Israel’s Spike is superior to the Hellfire. It has longer range, making it safer to use against an enemy that possesses shoulder-fired ground to air missiles.

Worse yet, despite Saudi Arabia’s horrible bombing performance in Yemen, the U.S. continues to sell billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and has stepped up shipments of munitions.

The Spike is a better option than the Hellfire and safer to use, which is why 25 nations now use the missile and 25,000 or more have been produced.

 

Sometimes when decisions do not work out exactly as intended, they work out just fine.

In the midst of Operation Protective Edge — Israel’s response to 182 Hamas rockets and mortarsfired at Israeli towns and villages in the first week of July 2014 — the Obama administration accused Israel of “heavy handed battlefield tactics,” including the use of artillery instead of precision-guided munitions. U.S. President Barack Obama halted the supply of Hellfire missilesand announced that all military equipment supplied to Israel would be vetted individually in the White House, instead of shipped, according to prior agreements, by the Pentagon to Israel.

The President, it appears, had been reading wild press stories about the damage to Gaza — which ultimately turned out to be concentrated in areas in which Hamas was stockpiling munitions and rockets and conducting command and control operations, which included firing more than 2,700 rockets and missiles during the rest of July. Israel struck an UNRWA-administered school, prompting cries of outrage, but UNRWA later admitted that it covered up that Hamas had used the school for military operations.

The Hellfire decision was especially ironic because it is a precision munition, generally less broadly damaging than bombs dropped from aircraft. The Hellfire can be fired from airplanes, drones and helicopters.

Ironic, too, because the United States has used Hellfire missiles against terrorists — often without the permission of the countries in which the terrorists were killed. A Hellfire was used to kill Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Kahn, American citizens, in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was designated a terrorist, and Kahn the editor of the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, but U.S. law may have been violated by their assassination.

Israel carried the Hellfire on its Apache helicopters — and the story of Israel’s purchase of 42 Apaches is also one of difficulty. In 2009, the Obama administration blocked the delivery of six of the Apaches to Israel, on the grounds Israel might use them in Gaza. U.S.-Israel military cooperation on the Apache was made difficult and as Obama’s dislike of Israel and Israeli security policy increased, the Hellfire on the Apache became the White House target.

For this reason, Israel concluded that the U.S. under Obama was not a reliable supplier of either helicopters or missiles. After the 2014 operation in Gaza, Israel turned to the Israeli manufacturer Rafael, developer of the hugely successful and potent Spike anti-tank missile. Rafael was to adapt Spike technology to the Apache, while the helicopter retained Hellfire capability at the same time.

The decision was fairly easy, because Israel was already working on adopting the Spike to helicopters in Europe, where the Spike is a big hit. Spain has already installed the Spike ER version on its Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Others in Europe and Asia are doing the same.

2048A Tiger attack helicopter carrying two racks of Israeli Spike ER missiles. (Image source: Airbus Helicopters)

Israel’s Spike is superior to the Hellfire. It has longer range, making it safer to use against an enemy that possesses shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADS. Since Benghazi, sophisticated MANPADS, including US-made Stingers (the same as were used in Afghanistan in “Charlie Wilson’s War”), have been smuggled from Libya and are now in the hands of terrorists including Hezbollah and ISIS.

The Spike features a non-line-of-sight firing capability, making it a more flexible weapon. But one feature of Spike that is entirely missing in Hellfire is that the operator can change target in mid-course or even destroy the weapon in flight if the target turns out to be wrong — a capability that is not trivial. During the Yugoslav war, NATO aircraft on a number of occasions hit targets that should have been aborted. One such incident occurred during an attack to knock out the Grdelica Bridge near Belgrade on April 12, 1999. When the missile was launched, the bridge was empty; when it struck some minutes later a civilian train was crossing and destroyed. On May 1, 1999 in Kosovo, NATO planes hit a bridge at Luzane where, again, a school bus came along after the missile was launched, killing many school children.

The Obama administration should never have cut off the sale of a precision weapon such as the Hellfire in the middle of battle. It was bad policy: it signaled the unreliability of the U.S. at that time as an ally. Worse yet, despite Saudi Arabia’s horrible bombing performance in Yemen, the U.S. continues to sell the Saudis billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, and has stepped up shipments of munitions. So Israelis have reason to believe that America failed her at a moment when it counted.

But there is a silver lining. The Spike is a better option than the Hellfire and safer to use, which is why 25 nations now use the missile and 25,000 or more have been produced.