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August 4, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Allies in Lebanon Army Seen Behind Attack - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    In the last few months there has been increasing friction between the Lebanese army and the IDF over the entire length of the border, as the Lebanese forces - especially Division 9, most of whose commanders are Shiite Muslim - take an aggressive stance against Israel.
    On Tuesday, the IDF Northern Command speculated that Hizbullah had a hand in the border conflict.
    Hizbullah, which is expecting to receive arrest warrants for some of its leaders surrounding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, may have used its allies within the Lebanese army to spark a confrontation.

U.S. Cuts Arrow 3 Funding - Ran Dagoni (Globes-Israel)
    Ostensibly, U.S. aid for Israeli missile defense programs in fiscal year 2011 ought to please Israel as various anti-missile programs will get record funding of $423 million, more than double the figure for 2010.
    However, the jump in U.S. funding comes from a one-time $205 million grant for the procurement of ten Iron Dome batteries for defense against short-range missiles.
    Financing for the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile program, intended as the main defense system against Iranian long-range missiles, was cut by $50 million compared with the current fiscal year.
    The Obama administration asked for $50.8 million for the program for fiscal year 2011. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense added another $58 million, bringing the total to $108.8 million, subject to final approval by Congress. In contrast, the Arrow 3 program received $157.4 million in the 2010 fiscal year.
    U.S. funding for the David's Sling system against medium-range missiles was cut from $134.7 million in 2010 to $84.7 million in 2011.
    A source in Washington said, "I advise not to lose proportion. We mustn't forget that Israel gets $2.2 billion a year in U.S. military aid."
    An Israeli source noted, "The cut in U.S. aid for the Arrow 3 won't affect the plan in any case. The Israeli government will inject all the money necessary into the program."

    See also Israel's Arrow Missile Defense (Defense Industry Daily)
    In an age of rogue states, ballistic missile defenses are steadily becoming a widely accepted necessity.
    The Israeli Arrow is a more advanced weapon than the U.S. Patriot and possesses far more range.
    Unlike the U.S. THAAD, PAC-3, or SM-3, which all use "hit to kill" technology, Israel's Arrow relies on a directed fragmentation warhead to destroy enemy missiles.
    Israel and the U.S. carried out a joint experiment in 2004 in which the Arrow was launched against a real Scud missile; the Arrow destroyed the Scud with a direct hit. In 2005 the system was successfully deployed in a test against a replicated Shahab-3 missile, a feat repeated in 2007.

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  • Lebanese Army Sniper Kills Israeli Commander in Border "Ambush"
    An Israeli army spokeswoman told BBC that two Israeli officers had been attacked by "snipers from the Lebanese armed forces" in a "well-planned ambush" during maintenance operations on Israel's side of the border. The head of Israel's Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, said the officers had been standing between 300 and 400 meters from the border, observing Israeli soldiers removing bushes near the border fence, when "sniper fire was directed at their position." Lt.-Col. Dov Harari, 45, was killed and an Israeli captain was "critically wounded." Israel responded with artillery and helicopter fire. The Lebanese army said three of its soldiers had been killed and four wounded. (BBC News)
        See also IDF: Presence of Cameramen, Journalists Proves It Was a Planned Ambush
    Journalists and photographers were briefed in advance of the intention to ambush IDF troops and even broadcast trucks were present at the scene of Tuesday's deadly clash, IDF officials charge. A correspondent for the Hizbullah-affiliated Beirut daily al-Akhbar was killed and another from Hizbullah's al-Manar television was wounded in the Israeli response. "If this incident was not planned in advance, why did field commanders in the Lebanese army bother to dispatch journalists to the area and ensure that cameras were present at the site?" one IDF official said. (Ynet News)
        See also Report: Lebanese Used Delay to Prepare Ambush
    The Lebanese Army took advantage of the fact that the IDF delayed by several hours maintenance work near the Lebanese border on Tuesday in order to plan and prepare an ambush on IDF forces, a senior official in Jerusalem told Israel Radio on Wednesday. The IDF told UNIFIL at 6 a.m. on Tuesday that they planned to do maintenance work at 9 a.m. UNIFIL requested that the IDF delay the work until 11 a.m. UNIFIL relayed the IDF's plans to the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese used the extra time to prepare an ambush and to invite journalists and photographers to the site. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Lebanese Army Confirms It Fired First - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
        See also UNIFIL Confirms IDF Claims - Yaakov Katz
    A UNIFIL official in southern Lebanon confirmed Wednesday that the IDF informed the organization of its intention to conduct routine maintenance work Tuesday in the area between Israel's border fence and the international border. "I can confirm that we received notification from the IDF about the work and we passed the information on to the Lebanese Army," said the Hungarian diplomat who is part of the UNIFIL force. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also UN: Tree in Lebanon-Israel Clash Was in Israel - Bassem Mroue
    Lt. Naresh Bhatt, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, UNIFIL, said Wednesday they have determined that a tree being cut down by Israeli forces which was at the center of deadly clashes along the Lebanon-Israel border was in Israeli territory. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Aerial Photograph Shows IDF Operating in Israeli Territory
    The IDF was operating within Israeli territory, as seen in this aerial photograph. Nevertheless, Reuters and, initially, the Associated Press wrongly stated the location of the incident. (Honest Reporting)
  • Report: Ahmadinejad Survives Bomb Attack on Convoy
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Iran on Wednesday. Al Arabiya television said an attacker threw a bomb that hit a car carrying journalists and presidential staff, and that some people had been wounded in the attack. (Reuters)
        See also Iran Claims to Have S-300 Surface-to-Air Missiles - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iran has obtained four S-300 surface-to-air missiles, the semiofficial Iranian Fars news agency claimed Wednesday. Iran received two missiles from Belarus and two others from another unspecified source. Russia signed a contract in 2007 to sell S-300 missiles to Iran, but said in June that new UN sanctions prevent their delivery. (AP)
  • Egypt Launches Security Sweep after Red Sea Attack - Jailan Zayan
    Egypt has launched a wide security sweep of Sinai after a senior Jordanian official said his country had proof the deadly rocket that struck the port town of Aqaba on Monday had been fired from Sinai, killing one person. "Following the Jordanian comments, Egypt has launched a wide security sweep of the Sinai peninsula," an Egyptian official said. (AFP)
        See also Rocket Attacks on Israel and Jordan Highlight How Hamas Could Use Sinai - Joshua Mitnick
    With the rise of Hamas in Gaza, concern is growing in Israel that the Palestinian Islamist movement - an offshoot of Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood - is seeking to expand its militant infrastructure into Sinai. "The farther from Cairo, the weaker the central authority is. They are having great difficulties with the Bedouin,'' says Ronen Bergman, a security commentator for the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot. "If Hamas is able to deepen its cooperation with the Bedouin, and create bases in Sinai for recruitment, we're talking about a new ballgame."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Prime Minister: Lebanon Responsible for Border Clash
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday: "Israel views this attack on IDF soldiers with utmost gravity. This was a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. I hold the Lebanese Government directly responsible for this violent provocation against Israel. Israel responded aggressively, and will do so in the future against any attempt to violate the quiet on the northern border, and attack residents of the north and the soldiers who are protecting them."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Blames U.S., France for Arming Lebanon - Barak Ravid and Shlomo Shamir
    "Countries are providing the Lebanese army with advanced weaponry for it to fight Hizbullah, and instead the Lebanese army is using the weapons to fire on IDF soldiers," a senior Israeli official said Tuesday, referring to the U.S. and France. The U.S. has given Lebanon nearly $500 million since 2006 to purchase arms, despite Israel's objections. France has also sent a great deal of weaponry to Lebanon, including advanced anti-tank missiles.
        White House Middle East adviser Dan Shapiro phoned Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, asking him to inform Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the administration expects him to act with restraint. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner telephoned Defense Minister Ehud Barak, asking that Israel show restraint. Barak called the incident a "planned provocation."
        Israel's UN envoy Gabriela Shalev informed the UN secretary general and the president of the Security Council that Israel had coordinated its work near the border fence with UNIFIL and that the Lebanese army opened fire first, in a flagrant violation of Security Council Resolution 1701. Senior officials in Israel were angry the Security Council had not found Lebanon responsible for the incident. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Scenarios for a Third Lebanon War - Gary Rosenblatt
    Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel, reports in a comprehensive "contingency planning memorandum" for the Council on Foreign Relations, "Hizbullah's arsenal is more potent in quantity and quality today than it was in 2006." In addition, he notes, Hizbullah has stepped up its anti-Israel rhetoric. Kurtzer points out that American efforts to prevent another war in Lebanon are limited, recognizing Israel's right and need for self-defense and Washington's lack of relations with Hizbullah and its supporter, Iran.
        He concludes that the U.S. should increase its intelligence in the area; proclaim its support for Israel's right to defend itself and make known its worries over Hizbullah's rearmament; resurrect an international monitoring system; increase diplomatic pressure on Syria; prepare for war and seek an outcome that weakens Hizbullah; and prepare for postwar diplomacy. (New York Jewish Week)
        See also A Third Lebanon War - Daniel C. Kurtzer (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Why Addition of Columbian President Improves UN Turkish Flotilla Panel - Benny Avni
    Israel agreed to be a member of the "panel of inquiry" into the Turkish flotilla named by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon only after Ban added Alvaro Uribe to the panel as vice chair. As the outgoing president of Colombia, Uribe is a true democrat who has turned Colombia, a country held hostage for decades by narco-terrorists, into a thriving state. Uribe's Colombia, which his enemy and neighbor, Hugo Chavez, once called the "Israel of Latin America," was helped a lot by Israeli experts in its successful war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Can Lebanon's Army Be Trusted? - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)

    • The accurate sniper fire directed at IDF forces was a local, well-organized, Lebanese army initiative rather than a mad outburst by a crazed soldier. Apparently, field commanders endorsed the attack.
    • The same army lauded by Israel when it deployed in southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War, in the hopes that it would replace or at least restrain Hizbullah's activity in the area, has turned out to be a problematic element.
    • Will this military - which usually excels in ceremonies but rushes to get out of the area at times of confrontation - stand by Hizbullah in a future clash?
    • Or is it possible that Lebanese army officers and soldiers will initiate the move that would lead to the next confrontation?

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