Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts

18 July 2017

Israel’s Secret Arab Allies


TEL AVIV — United States and Israeli officials seem convinced that a regional peace agreement between Israel and the Arab world may be in the offing. On his recent trip to the Middle East, President Trump said that a “new level of partnership is possible and will happen — one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States and greater prosperity to the world.” The main stumbling block remains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an emotive issue that still carries strategic weight in Arab capitals. Yet the president isn’t completely wrong. Across the Middle East these days, often away from the headlines, Israel finds itself deeply involved in Arab wars.

The clearest manifestation of what is frequently called “the new Middle East” can be found in Syria. Mr. Trump himself infamously alluded to Israel’s strategic reach when he told visiting Russian diplomats about information obtained by covert Israeli intelligence operations against the Islamic State. According to subsequent reports, Israeli military intelligence had hacked into the computer networks of Islamic State bomb makers in Syria. A few weeks later, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel was intensifying its security and intelligence cooperation with Jordan in southern Syria to stave off Iranian gains in the area.

17 July 2017

As Palestinian leaders fight over Gaza, Israel worries Hamas will go to war

By William Booth and Hazem Balousha

GAZA CITY — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is pursuing a high-risk campaign in the Gaza Strip to squeeze his own people so hard that they might force the Islamist militant movement Hamas to surrender control of the isolated coastal enclave. 

The 82-year-old leader’s Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank but has only limited sway in Gaza, has slashed salaries for its employees in the seaside territory, withheld permissions for medical patients to leave and, in its most dramatic step, cut payments for the electricity provided to Gaza by Israel. 

Israel fears Hamas might lash out with rocket fire, and the World Bank worries the strip could collapse. The United Nations on Tuesday declared that a decade of Hamas rule, Palestinian infighting and crippling blockades by Israel and Egypt have made life for people in Gaza “more and more wretched” each day. 

But Abbas has said he is prepared to go even further, threatening to impose sanctions against Hamas and freeze funds for its leaders “if they continue to rule Gaza and use the money of the Palestinian people to strengthen their hold on power,” according to an interview he gave to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. 

15 July 2017

** Information Warfare: Israel Plays Rough

July 12, 2017: The Israeli domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet, similar to the British MI5) recently confirmed what was already widely known among hackers; trying to hack Israeli networks will often trigger instant counter-hacks that will at least halt the hackers with unexpected error messages or, worse, generate a powerful counter-hack directed against the attackers system. The worst result is that, as several thousand foreign hackers have already discovered, the Israelis will identify who you are and where you are operating from. If the hacker is in a nation that has extradition or similar arrangements with Israel the hacker can start worrying about getting arrested or, at the very least, being placed under investigation and added to a list of the usual suspects.

Shin Bet could not hide the fact that it was expanding its Cyber War operations and recruiting additional personnel. So announcements like this are considered part PR and part recruiting. Since 2010 various Israeli government and military organizations have been seeking additional staff for new Cyber War efforts that can detect and thwart enemy hackers. This included seeking expert hackers willing to train to operate in the field with Israeli commando units. That new Cyber War unit was actually part of military intelligence and sought recruits from those already in the military as well as civilians.

10 July 2017

Can Russian UAVs Close the Gap with America or Israel?

Samuel Bendett

In a recent interview to Russian daily RIA-NOVOSTI news agency, Russian Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin made a number of interesting statements about his country's state of military unmanned aerial aviation. Referring to his country's falling behind such UAV leaders as US and Israel, Rogozin confidently remarked that Russia's gap with these two technology leaders has been greatly lessened, and soon Moscow would completely catch up to these two nations and achieve UAV parity. Rogozin specifically noted that he was referring to intelligence-gathering drones, or ISR (intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance duties), as well as combat (strike) UAVs. According to him, there are "no grounds for concern in connection with any (technological) lag...From the point of view of the development of communication channels, from the point of view of the availability of weapons, from the point of view of the unmanned systems themselves, I can say only one thing: there is no need to speak about any lag. It has been sharply reduced and will be completely eliminated in the near future."

Were Rogozin to speak in 2025-2030, perhaps his statements may ring true, to an extent. Russia is currently trying to develop a range of unmanned aerial systems, pursuing a wide range of projects dealing with small to mid-sized UAVs, quadrocopter/multi-rotor models, unmanned helicopters, as well as larger, long-range machines capable of potentially carrying weapons. For example, during the recent International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg, a Russian company Radar MMS introduced several unmanned helicopter models, including large BPV-500 prototype capable of carrying weapons. Other recent major developments include Kalashnikov Design Bureau's Zala 421-16E2 noiseless reconnaissance and surveillance drone. In fact, there are major announcements related to UAV developments, testing and evaluation coming out of Russia almost on a weekly basis. However, many such statements deal with prototypes or test beds, and that is hardly equal to thousands of American and Israeli UAVs operating across the world on a daily basis.

7 July 2017

From Osirak to Yongbyon

By Dr. Alon Levkowitz

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: North Korea is moving forward with its development of an ICBM that can carry a nuclear warhead. Will Pyongyang test it, challenging Washington to strike its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon? If Washington does strike, will Pyongyang choose to react passively as Syria did in 2007, or will it respond by starting a war with South Korean and American forces in the region? Although both sides use militant rhetoric, neither will choose to challenge the other. They will instead upgrade their deterrence capabilities. 

On June 7, 1981, the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed Osirak, the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad, Iraq. The attack was very successful and Iraq never retaliated. The message was heard loud and clear across the Middle East – Israel will not tolerate a nuclear threat to its national interests, not even from a country with which it does not share a border and from which the likelihood of an attack is relatively low.

Twenty-six years later, on September 6, 2007, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor, in northeast Syria. Unlike Iraq, Syria does share a border with Israel. Then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his advisors had to calculate the likelihood that Syria would perceive the attack as a casus belli. If it did, the strike on the reactor was tantamount to going to war with Syria.

Syria decided against starting a war with Israel; nor did it respond with a limited attack. The only state to condemn Israel for the strike was North Korea, which had assisted Syria in building the reactor.

6 July 2017

Being realistic - Narendra Modi's open friendship with Israel

Krishnan Srinivasan 

The Indian prime minister in New Delhi before leaving for Israel

India and Israel achieved independence in 1947 and 1948 respectively, and both were beset with the problems of partition. India recognized Israel de jure in 1950, but diplomatic relations commenced only in 1992. The Oslo peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the importance of closer relations with the United States of America after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the diminishing sensitivity of the main Indian political parties to Muslim vote-bank politics - all played their part in creating the diplomatic opening. This year, the 25th year of this diplomatic relationship, is being marked by the first visit by our prime minister to that country. The presidents of Israel have been in India twice and its prime minister once, while President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel in 2015. Bilateral ties have flourished even in the absence of many high-level exchanges, irrespective of the nature of governments in New Delhi and Tel Aviv. Narendra Modi has met Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at multilateral meetings and their personal chemistry has been good.

Modi had visited Israel as Gujarat's chief minister, and since becoming prime minister in 2014, has made it very clear that he does not subscribe to the previous inhibitions about an open friendship with Israel. While Israel has a population of only around nine million, it is advanced in technology and has more companies listed in the New York Nasdaq technology index than any developing country. This is because it is highly skilled in military-security hardware, recycling, desalination, bio-technology, water management, healthcare, communications, pharmaceuticals and non-conventional energy. These are all relevant for India's development and Indian private and public companies should consider outright purchase, or failing that, investment to access Israeli technology as high priority. A trade agreement has been under negotiation since 2010, and with total trade standing at about $5 billion, India is Israel's seventh biggest trade partner. There is longstanding cooperation between the diamond industries of Israel and Gujarat. In India, under a science and technology agreement, there is joint research in biotechnology, lasers and the human genome, and 15 Israeli agriculture centres have been set up in 10 states. Thousands of tourists travel in both directions each year and there are 70,000 Indian-origin Jews living in Israel.

4 July 2017

Modi In Israel: Need For More Equitable Defence Collaboration

by Bharat Karnad

Image result for pics of modi and netanyahuIt was not too long ago when Israeli diplomats considered India a hardship posting. Those souls braving the pokey confines of the Israeli Consulate on Peddar Road in Mumbai, protected 24×7 by a contingent of armed Maharashtra Police, were incentivised by higher emoluments and career advancement. This was before diplomatic relations were “normalized” and the representation scaled up in 1992 to the ambassadorial level by the Narasimha Rao government. In the new millennium, Delhi is a much sought after station. Ambassador Alon Uzpich, for instance, went from Delhi to an appointment as Adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in one fine leap and lost no time in urging his boss to establish a separate bureau in the Israeli Foreign Office to deal with India, which Netanyahu duly did two months back.

India and Israel have a uniquely close relationship. It dates back to trade in King Solomon’s time, and the first Jews seeking refuge in India after the razing of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.

The two countries share similar histories of birth as modern nation-states.

The departing British colonial power did its standard ‘cut and run’ in the Palestine Mandate territory in 1948, as it had done in the subcontinent the previous year and leaving behind the bloody partition debris for the peoples to build on.

3 July 2017

Beyond Transactional Ties, A 10-Year Roadmap For India-Israel Relations

Jaideep A Prabhu

To move beyond transactional ties, India and Israel must make an effort to encourage cultural connections. This is best done through education, tourism and the arts.

Here we present a ten-year roadmap that both countries can tread to forge people-to-people connections.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on his trip to Israel, many await the outcome of this historic visit. Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to ever visit Israel and symbolically, will not stop to visit the Palestinian Authority while in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is rumoured to share a good personal chemistry with Modi and has tweeted warmly, welcoming the Indian leader to Israel. Netanyahu has cleared his schedule for the two days Modi is in Jerusalem and plans to spend the entire time in discussions with him.

Ahead of Modi's visit, the Israeli cabinet has proposed several measures to strengthen relations with India. They include a joint fund to encourage Indo-Israeli business cooperation, an expansion of cooperation in water management and agriculture, and the promotion of tourism. There is already some speculation about several arms deals the Indian Prime Minister will also be signing during his trip.

June 27, 2017IsraelPalestinian Authority Gaza on the Brink How to Forestall Another Conflict Between Hamas and Israel

By Benedetta Berti

An ongoing electricity crisis is placing an inordinate amount of pressure on Gaza. If not addressed, it could end with a political implosion, a full-blown humanitarian disaster, and yet another round of violence between Hamas and Israel. 

A dangerous combination of intra-Palestinian rivalry, the lack of a long-term Israeli strategy for dealing with Hamas, international inertia, and the absence of a political process heightens Gaza’s dire predicament and the possibility of conflict. Even worse, these same factors are plunging the strip into the deepest humanitarian crisis it has seen in a decade. In short, Gaza is on the brink of a humanitarian, and possibly political, point of no return.

The episodes of escalation between Hamas and Israel over the past ten years follow a remarkably similar pattern. Although Israel has repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to remove Hamas from power by isolating Gaza, it continues to rely on that same system of restrictions to keep Hamas at bay. The guiding assumption has been that Hamas, interested in continuing to rule the Gaza Strip, can be kept from initiating military hostilities through the threat of increased economic sanctions and military action. Implicit in this reasoning is the belief that it is possible to put enough pressure on Hamas to keep it weak while not putting toomuch pressure on the group to make it desperate—left with nothing to lose and thus undeterrable.

29 June 2017

Nine Reasons Why Modi’s Visit Is Important To Israel

Prof. P R Kumarswamy

When Israel hosts Prime Minister Narendra Modi next month, it would be hosting the leader of the country with the third largest Muslim population in the world. 

Over and above this, by Netanyahu’s own statements, the Jewish state would be looking to host a friend.

While much has been written about the significance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to Israel, how important is the visit to the latter? In his weekly cabinet meeting this Sunday (25 June), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flagged the visit and pledged to work towards strengthening bilateral relations with India. The question open to debate is, why?




The foundation of civilization is under cyber attack, said the former commander of Israel's elite intelligence Unit 8200 Nadav Zafir on Monday.

Zafir claimed that the electoral process can be tampered with by unlawful cyber activity and damage infrastructure, putting democratic civilizations at risk.

Zafir, headed what is considered to be the Israeli NSA between 2009 - 2013, made the comments during Cyber Week at Tel Aviv University.

The current chief of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, is scheduled to give a rare talk on Tuesday that will present the audience with some of the means the Israeli security services use to tackle threats from individual hackers. This would be the first time such details will be openly presented to the public.

24 June 2017

Israel, the Six Day War and the End of the Two-state Solution

By David Gardner

Donald Trump entered the White House promising to be ‘the most pro-Israel president ever’. This hyperbolic bombast gratified what is certainly the most right-wing Israeli government ever, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s crushing victory over Arab armies in 1967, and half a century of occupation of the West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem it has no plans to end.

President Trump, the self-described dealmaker, keeps hinting and tweeting he is on course to do ‘the ultimate deal’ that has eluded his predecessors: never spelt out but assumed to mean an Arab-Israeli peace encompassing a deal for the Palestinians, who have sought in vain the state proffered tantalisingly by the Oslo accords of 1993-95.

This most erratic of US presidents, meeting Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, in February, threw the international consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Oslo to the winds, saying that the two-state solution, meant to offer security to Israel and justice to the Palestinians, may not be the way to resolve it. ‘I am looking at two-state and one-state [solutions], and I like the one that both parties like,’ Trump said, to nervous chortles from Netanyahu and general bemusement.

Backgrounder: The Six-Day War

With the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War this month, we offer a quick review of work on the subject produced over the years by the Middle East Forum's staff and fellows, and by contributors to its flagship journal, Middle East Quarterly (MEQ).

The basic facts of the Six-Day War aren't really in dispute. In the face of a military buildup by Arab armies, bellicose threats by Arab leaders, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping (an act of war that cut off the Jewish state's access to the Red Sea), and other provocations, Israel struck first on June 5. Catching its enemies by surprise, Israel effectively destroyed Nasser's air force in the first hours, then defeated the Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian armies in quick succession. By the end of the war it had captured the entire Sinai from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

The conventional wisdom is that the Six-Day War was more or less accidental in that Nasser did not want war. Led astray by Soviet misinformation and egged on by rival Arab leaders, he took the escalation a bridge too far, cornering Israeli leaders into seeing a "preemptive" strike as the only option.

But MEQ editor Efraim Karsh argues in the new Summer 2017 issue of MEQ that whatever specific triggers may have led to war on June 5, 1967, a "second all-out attempt ... to abort the Jewish national revival" was going to happen eventually given the Arab world's unwavering rejection of Jewish statehood, together with Nasser's pan-Arab ambitions and overconfidence.

20 June 2017

This Is How Israel's Air Force Dominates the Middle East

Robert Farley

In its early years, Israel took what weapons it could from what buyers it could find. This meant that the IDF often operated with equipment of a variety of vintages, mostly secured from European producers. By the late 1950s, however, Israel had secured arms transfer relationships with several countries, most notably the United Kingdom and France. The relationship with France eventually blossomed, resulting in the transfer of high-technology military equipment, including Mirage fighters (and also significant technical assistance for Israel’s nuclear program). These Mirage fighters formed the core of the IAF in the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel largely destroyed its neighbors’ air forces in the first hours of the conflict.

Since the 1960s, the air arm of the Israel Defense Forces (colloquially the IAF) has played a central role in the country’s defense. The ability of the Israeli Air Force to secure the battlefield and the civilian population from enemy air attack has enabled the IDF to fight at a huge advantage. At the same time, the IAF has demonstrated strategic reach, attacking critical targets at considerable distance.

19 June 2017

NYT: Israel Accomplished Pivotal Cyber Attack Against ISIS


In a bombshell report on Monday, The New York Times revealed just how difficult the cyber war against the Islamic State (ISIS) has been, along with a remarkable success in hacking ISIS with the help of Israel.

"Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago," the Times quoted U.S. cyber officials as saying. "That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers."

The Times' David Sanger and Eric Schmitt reported that this intelligence was "so exquisite that it enabled the United States to understand how the weapons could be detonated."

15 June 2017

Israeli hackers reportedly got into ISIS networks and found they were building laptop bombs


Israeli government hackers broke into the computer networks of ISIS bomb makers months ago and uncovered the terror group's plans to build laptop bombs that could get through airport X-ray machines,according to a new report in The New York Times.

The Times report, authored by David Sanger and Eric Schmitt and sourced to two American officials, said that the intelligence gleaned from the electronic heist was "so exquisite" that it helped US spies get an understanding of how such devices would be detonated.

The Department of Homeland Security in March implemented a ban on electronic devices larger than a cell phone from being carried onto aircraft originating from 10 countries in Africa and the Middle East. A DHS fact sheet said terrorists were trying to smuggle explosives in "various consumer items."

According to the Times report, ISIS was fashioning explosives that would look just like a battery in a laptop computer.

14 June 2017

How Israel spots lone-wolf attackers Algorithms monitor social-media posts of Palestinians

HIS last Facebook post was perhaps the only clue of Raed Jaradat’s yearning for vengeance: it showed a Palestinian teenager lying dead with her headscarf soaked in blood and the message “Imagine if this were your sister.” Dania Irsheid, 17, had been shot by Israeli security forces in October 2015 at the entrance to the Ibrahimi mosque (Jews call it the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. Police said she had tried to stab Israelis; Palestinian witnesses say she was unarmed.

The next day Raed, a 22-year-old accounting student from the town of Sair, near Hebron, went to a checkpoint nearby and stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck before he, too, was shot dead. Later his 19-year-old cousin, Iyad, was killed during stone-throwing clashes with Israeli troops. Raed and Dania had never met but, at his funeral, their fathers said their children should be married “in Paradise”.

10 June 2017

*** Israel's Legacy: Six Days That Shaped a Nation

By Stratfor

It seems almost inconceivable today that a war could be fought and won in less than a week. The current Afghan conflict has been running off and on for the time it takes a child to grow up and prepare for high school graduation. Even the combat phase of the first Persian Gulf War, waged by the most militarily capable coalition on Earth, took over a month to complete. And yet, 50 years ago today, Israel achieved a decisive military victory against overwhelming odds in the span of six days during the summer of 1967. Not only did the Jewish state eliminate all immediate threats to its very existence, it secured regional military dominance, something it maintains a half-century later.

Israel succeeded in defeating five Arab nations on the ground and in the sky, amassing roughly three and a half times more landmass in the process, including the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and much of the West Bank of the Jordan River. This enabled the country to effectively redraw its borders, and those of Israel's immediate neighbors, too. But more to the point, it proved that the Israelis would strike first if they felt threatened, and do so in a conclusive manner.

The conflict is often portrayed as Israel's ultimate achievement in solidifying its own security, and some consider the victory a prelude to the death of pan-Arabism. Yet both characterizations are often exaggerated. While the Six-Day War was indeed a wildly successful conventional military win, it also laid the groundwork for a more surreptitious (yet equally deadly) security threat to Israel.

8 June 2017

** ‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display


Israeli armored forces advanced against Egyptian troops at the start of the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. 

On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.

The secret contingency plan, called a “doomsday operation” by Itzhak Yaakov, the retired brigadier general who described it in the interview, would have been invoked if Israel feared it was going to lose the 1967 conflict. The demonstration blast, Israeli officials believed, would intimidate Egypt and surrounding Arab states — Syria, Iraq and Jordan — into backing off.

Israel won the war so quickly that the atomic device was never moved to Sinai. But Mr. Yaakov’s account, which sheds new light on a clash that shaped the contours of the modern Middle East conflict, reveals Israel’s early consideration of how it might use its nuclear arsenal to preserve itself.

“It’s the last secret of the 1967 war,” said Avner Cohen, a leading scholar of Israel’s nuclear history who conducted many interviews with the retired general.

Israel Planned An Atomic Detonation In The Egyptian Sinai If Their Political/Military Leadership Felt The Arabs Might Prevail In The 1967 Six-Day War; Might North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un Plan A Similar Atomic Operation — Should He Believe U.S./South Korean Forces Were About To Defeat His Military?

Today’s (June 3, 2017) edition of the Times Of Israel, reports that Israel’s senior political and military leadership had decided to detonate an atomic weapon in the Sinai — if they believed that the Arab armies would likely prevail in the 1967, Six-Day War. “On the eve of the Six-Day War, with the country surrounded by enemies; and, unsure of its future, Israel developed a ‘Doomsday Plan,’ to detonate an atomic bomb in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula — as a warning to the Arabs,” the New York Times reported on its website, June 3, 2017. According to the Times of Israel, this report “is based on an interview between leading Israeli nuclear scholar Avner Cohen, and retired Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Brigadier General Itzhak Yaakov, — who reportedly oversaw the plan,” and presumably would have made the operational decision to do so.

“It is the last secret of the 1967, Six-Day War,” Mr. Cohen told the New York Times. The full interview, including this most significant, new revelation, is to be published in Monday’s edition of the publication, as part of the 50th anniversary of the war that significantly altered the political, military, and strategic landscape of the Middle East.

Brig. Gen. Yaakov told the New York Times, that Israel was “deeply fearful before the war.” Israel’s senior political and military leadership, took at face value, Arab threats to “throw Israel into the sea;” and, Israeli leaders apparently decided that to save their country, they would detonate an atomic bomb in the Sinai Peninsula — to prevent such an outcome.