How Hizbullah Is Preparing for the Third Lebanon War - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
Hizbullah is speeding up its preparations for the third Lebanon war, and this time it has no intention of settling for firing rockets at Israel.
Some in the Israeli intelligence community are now referring to "Hizbullah 3.0," which is gaining vast combat experience and new weapons in Syria - and is planning to use both in due course.
"Hizbullah is Israel's most challenging enemy," says Col. (res.) Ronen Cohen, former director of the Terrorism Desk at IDF Military Intelligence and deputy head of MI's Research Division.
Hizbullah has 80,000 to 100,000 missiles and rockets, all directed at Israel. In addition, it has greatly improved its UAVs and built a unit of "suicide" aircraft which can reach many areas in Israel and explode on selected targets.
Moreover, said Cohen,
Hizbullah's goal is a ground invasion with an entry of many commando and antitank teams deep into the Upper and Western Galilee.
"The fighting teams will use explosive devices and antitank missiles like the Kornet, which reaches an efficient range of 5 km. during the day and 3 km. at night. Through these ranges, they will be able to control vehicles on the Lower Galilee's roads...not to mention the Acre-Safed road, the roads going up the Galilee panhandle, etc."
"It's enough for Hizbullah cells to deploy in the area, hide for a while and hit vehicles and meeting points of the fighting forces preparing to enter Lebanon, in order to deeply sabotage any IDF plan of action."
See also Hizbullah Discusses Its Operational Plan for War with Israel: Missile Fire on Tel Aviv and Conquest of the Galilee - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Mission to Purge Syria of Chemical Weapons Comes Up Short - Adam Entous and Naftali Bendavid (Wall Street Journal)
One year after the West celebrated the removal of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal as a foreign-policy success, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the regime didn't give up all of the chemical weapons it was supposed to.
U.S. intelligence now suggests that Assad hid caches of deadly nerve agents, and that he may be prepared to use them if government strongholds are threatened by Islamist fighters.
If the regime collapses outright, such chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic State or another terror group.
Amnesty Protests "Staggering Execution Spree" in Iran (AFP)
Amnesty International on Thursday protested a "staggering execution spree" in Iran so far this year that has seen almost 700 people put to death.
See also Iran's Prison Archipelago - Lawrence A. Franklin (Gatestone Institute)
Lost in the daily reporting about nuclear talks is the Iran regime's increased rate of executions of its own citizens.
While the Islamic Republic dons a reasonable and sophisticated face to the world, the regime runs a vast network of prisons and detention centers, many of them still secret.
This "Prison Archipelago," similar in relative size and brutality to the network once run by the Soviet KGB, is the primary instrument of terror that keeps the Iranian ruling class in power.
Turkey Helped Iran Dodge Sanctions - Jamie Dettmer (VOA News)
More details are emerging about the role Turkey has played in assisting Iran to dodge international sanctions.
Ministers and associates of President Erdogan's family are alleged to have been paid substantial bribes amounting to at least 4% of the gold traded to Iran via Turkey, according to one of the couriers, Adem Karahan, who claims he helped facilitate the delivery of a ton of gold a day.
Karahan, who worked for Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, claims there were two groups of 22 couriers moving gold through Turkish airports.
Zarrab is accused of being the ringleader of a money-laundering and gold-smuggling ring in Turkey established to circumvent international sanctions against Iran.
U.S.: Israel Gives Jordan Helicopters for Border Security (Reuters)
Israel has given around 16 retired U.S.-supplied Cobra combat helicopters to Jordan to help the kingdom fend off insurgent threats on the Syrian and Iraqi borders, a U.S. official said.
New Radar to Address Gaza Mortar Threat - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
Residents of communities adjacent to the Gaza border fence, as well as IDF soldiers, have a 3-5 second warning-time to run for cover when a mortar shell is fired from Gaza.
The IDF is installing a new radar system that would increase the warning time to 15 seconds.
After five soldiers were killed in a staging area outside Gaza from mortar fire, the army now will use mobile warning systems to alert the exposed soldiers to the incoming danger.
Microsoft Acquires Israeli Startup Adallom, ironSource Buys Supersonic - Amir Teig and Inbal Orpaz (Ha'aretz)
Israeli cybersecurity startup Adallom was reportedly bought by Microsoft for $320 million. Adallom offers security products to protect companies' cloud-based software.
ironSource is buying Israeli ad-tech company Supersonic for $200-300 million. Supersonic's flagship product is a kind of virtual money for use in online games.
Israel Signs Deal for $1 Billion Thermo-Solar Power Plant (Reuters)
Israel signed a deal to build a $1 billion thermo-solar power plant in the southern Negev desert, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday.
The 121 megawatt plant, which will also be able to store electricity, is expected to come online in 2018.
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- Iran Vows to Buy Weapons Anytime, Anywhere - Adam Kredo
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told state television that he insisted during the negotiations on the recent nuclear deal that Iran be able "to buy weapons from wherever possible, and [said that Iran] is to provide weapons to whomever and whenever it considers appropriate."
Iran will not adhere to any current restrictions of its arms trade, he said.
“When they [the P5+1] said that they were not going to lift weapons and missiles sanctions, or at least not immediately, we explicitly told them that there could be no agreement....With regards to our national security, our defense systems, and our missiles systems, we are not even willing to negotiate, let alone compromise."
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, expressed concern that less than a week after the deal was announced, Iran is already challenging U.S. claims about what the agreement does.
"It's embarrassing enough when the supreme leader and Revolutionary Guards suggest less than full acceptance of the nuclear deal, but the agreement isn't even a week old and already Iran's chief negotiator is contradicting Secretary of State John Kerry." (Washington Free Beacon)
See also France's Hollande, Iran's Rouhani Agree to Boost Cooperation after Nuclear Deal
French President Francois Hollande agreed in a phone conversation with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Thursday to reinforce bilateral cooperation between the countries after last week's nuclear deal. "(French Foreign Minister) Laurent Fabius' visit to Iran on July 29 is aimed at initiating this development," Hollande's office said. Hollande told Rouhani that he wanted Iran to make a positive contribution to solving crises in the Middle East. (Reuters)
- Thousands Protest Iran Nuke Deal in Times Square - Dana Sauchelli, Frank Rosario and Bruce Golding
Thousands of protesters flooded Times Square Wednesday to rally against the Iran nuclear arms deal.
Organizers of the "Stop Iran Now" rally estimated the crowd, which filled the blocks between 42nd and 38th streets, at 12,000.
Speakers in Times Square included former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who said opposing the pact "is not only a strategic issue but a moral one. In the face of Iranian threats, does this agreement make us and our allies safer? I believe it does not."
Defense attorney and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz called the rally a "great display of democracy in action." (New York Post)
- Saudi Press: We Must Have a Military Nuclear Program within a Decade
Following the July 14 announcement of the Iran nuclear deal, the Saudi press has featured numerous articles openly calling for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to use the coming decade to develop their own military nuclear program, against the nuclear threat that they say Iran will constitute after the agreement expires.
Dr. Hashem 'Abdu Hashem, columnist for the official Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, in his column "There Is No Alternative to the Option of a Nuclear Arms Race," wrote: "Just as Iran has opened the [nuclear] door wide, we must not delay in breaking [the nuclear door] down, with all necessary speed....We are facing a new reality, with no room for tiptoeing around the arms race issue. The countries of the region must confer on how best to cooperate and coordinate on this vital issue, now that it has become the preferred option."
In addition, Saudi Arabia has in recent months taken practical steps to develop a civilian nuclear program, signing nuclear agreements with France, Russia, and South Korea, which include the establishment of civilian nuclear reactors in the kingdom.
- Turkey Opens Key Air Base for U.S. Strikes on ISIS - Patrick Tucker and Marcus Weisgerber
Turkey will open Incirlik Air Force Base, about 250 miles from the Syrian city of Raqqa, to U.S. and coalition strike operations against the Islamic State, Obama administration officials confirmed. The anti-ISIS aircraft had been flying some 1,200 miles from bases outside Iraq or aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf to strike enemy positions. Washington had been trying to get Turkey's permission to launch strike missions from Incirlik ever since the air campaign began last August.
On Monday, 31 people were killed when a bomb exploded in the Turkish city of Suruc. Turkish authorities have blamed the attack on Seyh Abdurrahman Alagoz, whom they said has ties to the Islamic State.
See also Turkish Jets Strike ISIS Targets in Syria
Turkish warplanes struck Islamic State targets in Syria on Friday after the extremist group fired at a Turkish military outpost, killing a soldier. TRT television said the planes did not violate Syrian airspace. In a recent crackdown on IS operations in Turkey, in the last six months more than 500 people suspected of working with IS have been detained, Turkish officials say.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: Deal Boosts Iran Terror Threat - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil and Raphael Ahren
Israel anticipates a "major escalation" of Iranian-backed terror attacks on its borders as a direct result of the nuclear agreement, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said Wednesday during a conference call hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "The moment that the funds become available from frozen accounts...that's when the Middle East goes south and things become extremely dangerous in the region." With the release of $150 billion of frozen funds, Iranian troops and their proxies "will have an ability to be everywhere simultaneously."
Gold added that "it is very uncomfortable for us to have to be in this kind of a struggle with the United States....We will get through this as allies. But we have to tell you the truth about how dangerous this agreement is." (Times of Israel)
- Israeli Officials: U.S. Seeking to Stifle Discussion of Dangers of Iran Deal - Chemi Shalev
Israeli government officials are pushing back against claims by Obama administration officials that Prime Minister Netanyahu isn't interested in any nuclear agreement with Iran.
"The claims that Israel would have rejected any deal and that the only alternative to the agreement is war are false. They are meant to prevent a substantive discussion about the dangers of this deal," the officials said.
"Israel has repeatedly expressed its support for the longstanding international position of dismantling sanctions only after dismantling Iran's nuclear program. Israel has also supported reaching a deal that would significantly roll back Iran's nuclear infrastructure and tie the lifting of restrictions on that infrastructure to Iran changing its aggressive behavior," they said. "The deal concluded in Vienna does neither." (Ha'aretz)
- Israeli Defense Minister: World Opening "Front Door" to Iran's Terror - Avi Lewis
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in a series of tweets Thursday: "The free world, instead of fighting with determination against this [Iranian] terrorist regime, is allowing it to enter through the front door of the family of nations. He who chooses to ignore terrorism directed at someone else, will find himself faced sooner than expected with that same terror at his doorstep."
Ya'alon warned that the Islamic Republic will "amplify" its sponsorship of terrorism "if it detects weakness and lack of resolve to confront it, as is the case now....As time passes, it becomes clearer that this agreement poses serious dangers, unique in their scope, to the Western world, faced with an octopus-like terror regime, as ambitious as it is ruthless, that will not hesitate to act within and against those countries that signed onto this bad deal." (Times of Israel)
- Iran Nuclear Deal Is Built on a Lie - Abraham H. Foxman
I hear the argument that Iran would be a threshold nuclear state without an agreement. But the truth is it would have been an illegitimate one that would have justified continued disapproval, sanctions and the threat of a military option against its nuclear program. The most dangerous regime in the region should never be given such legitimacy on such a perilous project. The original goal of dismantling Iran's nuclear infrastructure was not wishful thinking, but a vital part of what needed to be achieved.
The entire agreement is based on the Iranian lie that the country never intended to build a nuclear military capability. Once sanctions are removed, a duplicitous regime that has never admitted to seeking a weapon will surely find ways to circumvent the agreement despite inspections and snapback provisions.
The writer served as national director of the Anti-Defamation League for 28 years.
- Self-Deception at the Basis of the Iran Nuclear Deal - Max Singer
A fundamental self-deception stands at the basis of the Iran nuclear deal. The agreement states that "Iran envisions that this JCPOA will allow it to move forward with an exclusively peaceful, indigenous nuclear program." Yet none of the P5+1 governments truly believe that the Iranian program has been or is meant to be exclusively peaceful. They all understand that the main purpose of the Iranian program has been to build nuclear weapons. The writer is a founder of the Hudson Institute and a senior research associate at the BESA Center.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- The Iran Agreement's "Exit Ramp" - Owen Alterman
Paragraph 36 of the Iran agreement tells us when and how the agreement might end. Any party - be it Iran or a future U.S. president - can essentially ditch the Iran nuclear deal with 35 days' notice. Under Paragraph 36, Iran can claim that any of the P5+1 is "not meeting its commitments" under the agreement. That triggers a 35-day set of meetings. Once that clock runs, Iran can claim the issue "has not been resolved to [its] satisfaction" and that it "deems" that the issue "constitutes significant non-performance." Iran can then "cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part."
Once Iran has received its $150 billion and locked in long-term business contracts with the West, this quick exit could be an attractive option. The writer is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
- Iran Deal Is Not Worthy of Nobel Peace Prize - Jeff Jacoby
Far from requiring the Iranians to dismantle their illicit nuclear program, the Vienna accord leaves almost all of it intact. In exchange for little more than a promise to delay its development of nuclear warheads, Tehran is rewarded with $150 billion in sanctions relief and, within a few years, the lifting of the UN embargo on conventional weapons and missile sales. The Islamic Republic is the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism, yet nothing in the agreement requires any change in its notorious behavior.
- Cameron's Clarity on Violent Islam - Editorial
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered an important speech this week promising new measures to counter violent Islam. The root cause of Islamist radicalization, he argued, is neither economic deprivation nor the West's alleged misdeeds in the Middle East. It's a worldview that begins with "hearing about the so-called Jewish conspiracy and then develops into hostility to the West and fundamental liberal values, before finally becoming a cultish attachment to death."
He insisted that it wasn't enough for Muslim communal leaders in the West to denounce suicide bombings in London if they didn't also denounce "suicide bombs in Israel."
The Prime Minister has delivered an honest assessment of the threat facing Britain and the West. Shiraz Maher, a British ex-Islamist who now works against jihadist groups, told us Mr. Cameron's "real triumph" was his vow to "support liberals and reformers from within British Muslim communities so they can better challenge extremist theology." (Wall Street Journal)
See also Cameron: Islamic Extremist Ideology, Not Injustice or Poverty, Is the Root Cause of the Threat Facing Britain (Independent-UK)
- Europe Goes Back to the "Peace Process" - Elliott Abrams
There are millions of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. ISIS threatens Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. The new Iran nuclear deal would deliver $150 billion in cash to the Islamic Republic of Iran. ISIS and other jihadis are increasingly active in Sinai.
What is the European Union's reaction to all these threats? To turn once again to the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
France has been talking about a new UN Security Council resolution and European leaders have been discussing replacing the Quartet with some new mechanism. But the growth of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda makes an Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank even more dangerous to Israel and Jordan - and to the Palestinians. Abbas' advanced age makes it ever less likely that he will take a leap and sign any agreement, and as the years pass since the last Palestinian elections (2005), he has less and less legitimacy to make such decisions.
So the European decision to turn its efforts to insisting on a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement are foolish and will lead nowhere. Arab governments such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan are not clamoring for this EU effort and recognize that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is marginal to their own security needs and nightmares.
To the Sunni Arab governments, Israel looks like an ally against the jihadis and against Iran.
The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
- Is a Train Wreck Waiting for Israel on Capitol Hill? - Lenny Ben-David
In the 1981 AWACS battle on Capitol Hill, a relatively small American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) challenged the Reagan administration and the Saudi lobby seeking the U.S. sale of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance aircraft to Saudi Arabia.
On Oct. 14, 1981, the House of Representatives with its Democratic majority voted overwhelmingly against the sale, 301-111. On Oct. 28, the Senate rejected a resolution to disapprove the AWACS sale in a dramatic 48–52 vote. Of the 50 senators who had originally cosponsored the resolution, Reagan arm-twisted eight first-term senators - seven of them Republicans - to switch and oppose the resolution. The sale went through.
Just days after the AWACS vote, the State Department's congressional liaison met with AIPAC lobbyists to discuss cooperation on the annual foreign aid bill. Today as well, U.S.-Israel affinity, military and intelligence cooperation, and popular opinion in both countries guarantee that the current rocky relationship will right itself. The writer served as a senior Israeli diplomat in Washington.
(Times of Israel)
- U.S. and Israel Sign Agreement to Swap Data on Digital Intruders - Cory Bennett
Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas completed a three-day swing through Israel to discuss issues such as immigration, aviation security and cybersecurity. The two countries signed an agreement to deepen the exchange of data on digital intruders and digital defense tactics.
Israel is the world's second-largest exporter of cyber products, with a startup scene is not far behind Silicon Valley. Digital frontrunners such as PayPal and defense giants like Lockheed Martin are both opening cyber-focused research labs in the region.
The Israeli government represents a partner in countering Iran's growing cyber prowess. It's believed that Israel's digital army teamed with the U.S. to launch a destructive cyberattack that took out a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges.
- Lou Lenart, U.S. Pilot "Who Saved Tel Aviv," Dies at 94 - Josefin Dolsten
Israeli war hero Lou Lenart, an American fighter pilot who led an Israeli air attack during the War of Independence that fended off an Egyptian raid on Tel Aviv, died Monday at the age of 94. Lenart fought in World War II, seeing action in Okinawa and elsewhere in the Pacific. He then joined the clandestine effort to smuggle war-surplus planes to Israel in 1948.
On May 29, 1948, large Egyptian forces advanced to within 16 miles of Tel Aviv and Israel sent its entire air force - four Czech versions of the German Messerschmitt - to attack the Egyptian advance columns.
As the most experienced pilot, Lenart led the attack. The Egyptian troops stopped their advance and retreated. Subsequent news reports hailed Lenart as "The Man Who Saved Tel Aviv."
(Times of Israel)
Israel: The Countdown to Iran Becoming a Threshold Nuclear State Has Begun - Amb. Ron Prosor (Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN)
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told the Security Council on Thursday:
- Ten years ago, this month, Israel disengaged from Gaza and dismantled four settlements in the West Bank in order to show that there is a political horizon.
We removed thousands of Israeli families from their homes, uprooted entire communities, and withdrew every unit of the Israel Defense Forces. We were told that if only Israel would pull back, if only Israel would leave the Palestinians to run their own affairs, there would be peace. So we did.
- Ten years after withdrawing from Gaza, the territory we left has become a safe haven for terrorists. Apparently Hamas didn't get the memo that an Israeli withdrawal was supposed to end the jihad against its people. Since the disengagement, terrorist groups have fired 15,000 rockets and mortars at Israeli citizens. They have dug terror tunnels underneath the border to attack Israeli towns and communities. Israel doesn't have the luxury of waiting for the rest of the world to wake up. Before the West had to deal with the Islamic State halfway around the world, Israel had to deal with the Hamas terror state on our doorstep.
- One year ago, Israel was forced to protect its people after Hamas terrorists kidnapped and killed three Israeli youth, launched hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israel, and rejected or violated every truce offered to the parties. The Israel Defense Forces faced a cruel and cynical enemy which violated every code of morality the civilized world holds dear. Hamas launched their indiscriminate attacks from residential areas. Hospitals, schools, and UN facilities were used as weapons depots; playgrounds were used as launching pads.
- Three days ago, this Council adopted a resolution endorsing the nuclear agreement with Iran. This agreement is an historic mistake that brings Iran closer to achieving its 30-year goal of attaining nuclear weapons, and fuels its drive for imperial expansion. Ayatollah Khamenei declared that even after the agreement is signed, Iran will continue supporting terrorists in the Middle East and around the world.
- This agreement grants Iran not one, but two paths to the bomb. Iran can get the bomb by cheating, or it can get the bomb by keeping the deal for ten years, and then assembling it immediately afterwards. In the summer of 2015, the countdown to Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state has begun. In 5 years the embargo against conventional weapons will end, in 8 years they can acquire missile technology, in 10 years, unlimited centrifuges. This is not disarmament, this is a timetable for Iran to build nuclear weapons
- In future years, the consequences of this mistake will become clear to all, but for Israel, tomorrow is already too late.
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