Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas

March 30, 2016

david starIsrael will have five policy options regarding Judea and Samaria when Mahmoud Abbas departs from his post as leader of the Palestinian Authority and none of these options is ideal. This is the conclusion of analysis by Professor Hillel Frisch, professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Prof. Frisch is trying to craft a coherent Israeli policy toward a post-Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA). The task is challenging as the situation is constantly buffeted by tremors and underground currents. These include a wave of terrorist violence against Israelis, albeit declining; a growing rift within Fatah between Abbas and his detractors that is very much linked to the battle over his succession; and the possibility that linkage between those two developments could degenerate into civil war (another arena in the proxy war waged between Iran and Saudi Arabia and their respective allies).

The five approaches are

  • conflict management option,
  • creative friction,
  • constructive chaos,
  • unilateral withdrawal, and
  • unilateral annexation.

In every case, however, Israel will have to maintain a military presence in Judea and Samaria.

BESA CenterThe article Israel’s Five Policy Options Regarding Judea and Samaria by Prof. Hillel Frisch is BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 336, March 29, 2016 and it can be found as PDF from here ; a resume of it is represented below:

Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas [Source: Prof. Hillel Frisch/BESA Center]

According Prof. Frisch the Conflict Management Option is probably the most feasible, and the unilateral withdrawal option the least and according him the Unilateral withdrawal would in any case probably prove to be domestically impossible. The chaos option is not entirely in Israel’s hands, contingent as it is on developments within the PA.

Unlike in an excellent article by Prof. Frisch I think that unilateral withdrawal is both feasible and doable; its main benefit might be that Israel can deside it individually. Sure this option is promoted by Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Union, but I understand that the proposal has support in addition to center-left also from center and center-right in Israeli’s political sphere. I would like to emphasize also one aspect namely separate truce with Gaza/Hamas and in best case implementation sc Sinai option which could solve refugee question with positive outcome to some of problems in West Bank too.

clinton parameters

The components of Two-State solution have been roughly clear last two decades – see ‘Parameters of the Israel-Palestine Conflict’ above – but the final agreement is still missing. The international pressure might lead to talks or negotiations again, with or without outside facilitators, but probably with the same outcome than earlier. So from my perspective unilateral actions are steps forward and in my opinion also to the right direction.

If peace negotiations don’t start, they fail again or regional solutions can’t be realized this time so from my viewpoint Israel could independently implement what I have called a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, where Israel would annex main settlements from West-bank inside the security fence and return to negotiations about other than so solved border issue when both parties feel need to make a long term deal. This solution in my opinion is the best way forward and it even might be possible to implement. If unilateral solutions are made in the framework of constructive unilateralism so this approach might be the right roadmap towards more permanent two-state solution.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


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Biased ICTY Sentenced Karadzig 40 Years Based On Srebrenica [Hoax]

March 25, 2016

imagesA former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of genocide and other charges for his role during the Bosnian war in the 1990s, including the massacres of 8,000 Muslim men and boys outside the Srebrenica enclave.

An international tribunal announced a long-awaited reckoning in Europe’s bloodiest chapter since World War II on 24th March 2016. Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

In my post “Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?”  I tried to highlight the other side of Srebrenica story which differs from the picture of (western) mainstream media. I have never denied that brutalities happened in Srebrenica, but would like to get more information

a) About the context of Srebrenica events

b) Who was massacred (civilians/soldiers/members of different ethnic groups)

c) How many died in Srebrenica July 1995

d) What was the role of media as part of political game

What I claimed then and now is that the reality is much more complex than the existing myth. To have wider picture about events I have picked some alternative versions about Srebrenica case and mostly from western sources because many readers would see Serbian versions too biased.

Some alternative views:

From The Globe and Mail (Canada), July 14, 2005 “The real story behind Srebrenica” by the former UNPROFOR commander, Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, The Globe and Mail, 14 July 2005:

Evidence given at The Hague war crimes tribunal casts serious doubt on the figure of “up to” 8,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred. That figure includes “up to” 5,000 who have been classified as missing. More than 2,000 bodies have been recovered in and around Srebrenica, and they include victims of the three years of intense fighting in the area. The math just doesn’t support the scale of 8,000 killed.

 

Former chief NSA analyst: Most of killed in Srebrenica were soldiers who refused to surrender:

The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre” -article argues that only some Bosniaks were executed, most died in battle, and some of the bodies in mass graves are actually Serbs, by Edward S. Herman, 7 July 2005

There have been a great many bodies gathered at Tuzla, some 7,500 or more, many in poor condition or parts only, their collection and handling incompatible with professional forensic standards, their provenance unclear and link to the July 1995 events in Srebrenica unproven and often unlikely, (The web site of the International Commission on Missing Persons in the Former Yugoslavia acknowledges that the bodies “have been exhumed from various gravesites in northeast HiH,” not just in the Srebrenica region; quoted in a 2003 Statement by ICMP Chief of Staff Concerning Persons Reported Missing from Srebrenica in July 1995, Gordon Bacon.) and the manner of their death usually uncertain. Interestingly, although the Serbs were regularly accused of trying to hide bodies, there has never been any suggestion that the Bosnian Muslims, long in charge of the body search, might shift bodies around and otherwise manipulate evidence, despite their substantial record of dissembling. A systematic attempt to use DNA to trace connections to Srebrenica is underway, but entails many problems, apart from that of the integrity of the material studied and process of investigation, and will not resolve the question of differentiating executions from deaths in combat. There are also lists of missing, but these lists are badly flawed, with duplications, individuals listed who had died before July 1995, who fled to avoid BSA service, or who registered to vote in 1997, and they include individuals who died in battle or reached safety or were captured and assumed a new existence elsewhere.

Report of International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) says that the “alleged casualty number of 7,000 victims is vastly inflated and unsupported by evidence”

Phillip Corwin, former UN Civilian Affairs Coordinator in Bosnia during the 1990s, said: “What happened in Srebrenica was not a single large massacre of Muslims by Serbs, but rather a series of very bloody attacks and counterattacks over a three year period which reached a crescendo in July of 1995.”

Former BBC journalist Jonathan Rooper, who has researched the events in Srebrenica since 1995, says that the region was a graveyard for Serbs as well as Muslims and that a monument to inflated casualties on one side “serves neither truth nor the goal of reconciliation”. Around 3,000 names on a list of Srebrenica victims compiled by the Red Cross matched voters in the Bosnian election in 1996. “I pointed out to the OSCE that there had either been massive election fraud or almost half the people on the ICRC missing list were still alive,” says Rooper. “The OSCE finally responded that the voting lists had been locked away in warehouses and it would not be possible for them to investigate.”

Report of Srebrenica Research Group concludes that “the contention that as many as 8,000 Muslims were killed has no basis in available evidence and is essentially a political construct.

The ICMP now (June 2005) states on its website: “One month before the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica in 1995, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has completed identifications of more than 2,000 of the Srebrenica victims.”

Srebrenica-suicide-1995

An article “Using War as an Excuse for More War: Srebrenica Revisited” by Diana Johnstone describes e.g. following

In short, Srebrenica, whose Serb population had been chased out by Muslim troops at the start of the civil war in 1992, was both a gathering point for civilian Muslim refugees and a Muslim army base. The enclave lived from international humanitarian aid. The Muslim military did not allow civilians to leave, since their presence was what ensured the arrival of humanitarian aid provisions which the military controlled…

srebrenicaMuch has been made of the fact that Serb forces separated the population, providing buses for women, children and the infirm to take them to Tuzla, while detaining the men. In light of all that preceded, the reason for this separation is obvious: the Bosnian Serbs were looking for the perpetrators of raids on Serb villages, in order to take revenge…

When the Serb forces entered the town from the south, thousands of Muslim soldiers, in disarray because of the absence of commanding officers, fled northwards, through wild wooded hills toward Tuzla. It is clear enough that they fled because they feared exactly what everyone aware of the situation dreaded: that Serb soldiers would take vengeance on the men they considered guilty of murdering Serb civilians and prisoners. Thousands of those men did in fact reach Tuzla, and were quietly redeployed. This was confirmed by international observers. However, Muslim authorities never provided information about these men, preferring to let them be counted among the missing, that is, among the massacred. Another large, unspecified number of these men were ambushed and killed as they fled in scenes of terrible panic. This was, then, a “massacre”, such as occurs in war when fleeing troops are ambushed by superior forces.

Who Gets Justice From ICTY?

Finnish leading daily newspaper – Helsingin Sanomat – published on 14th Apr. 2013 an investigative feature story Winners Justice related to recent release of Croatian war criminal Ante Gotovina. Gotovina was responsible about biggest ethnic cleansing during Balkan wars. The article clearly proves the political and biased nature of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

 

Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other Column 1: Civilian deaths, Column 2: Refugees, Column 3: ICTY sentences (years) about crimes against nations on line, Column 4: ICTY sentences against nations on line/days/civilian death Column 5: ICTY sentences against nations on line/ratio of deaths + 50% of refugee amount Free translation AR///Source: Helsingin Sanomat

Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least
Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other
Column 1: Civilian deaths, Column 2: Refugees, Column 3: ICTY sentences (years) about crimes against nations on line, Column 4: ICTY sentences against nations on line/days/civilian death
Column 5: ICTY sentences against nations on line/ratio of deaths + 50% of refugee amount
Free translation AR///Source: Helsingin Sanomat

 

My conclusion: Selective Justice

In my earlier article I asked: Srebrenica – a hoax or massacre? and summarized following:

Srebrenica – a hoax or massacre?I would say both; a hoax due the well planned and implemented PR maneuver , a massacre when the Serbs went to trap and used brutal force also against civilians. When the Serbs got a tactical win in warfare the Muslims got US as their strategic ally with Serb demonization. In addition to human sacrifice – victims from all ethnic groups, civilians and soldiers/mercenaries – one loser was the investigative journalism and media on the whole by accepting one-sided truth in Bosnia and since then also in future conflicts.

The Al-Quada-linked 'El-Mujahedeen' brigade of the Bosnian Muslim Army parading in downtown Zenica in central Bosnia in 1995, carrying the black flag of Islamic jihad

The Al-Quada-linked ‘El-Mujahedeen’ brigade of the Bosnian Muslim Army parading in downtown Zenica in central Bosnia in 1995, carrying the black flag of Islamic jihad

In Wilson Center publication 191. Biased Justice: “Humanrightsism” and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Robert M. Hayden gives from my piint of view an excellent description about ICTY – a quote:

The ICTY, however, delivers a “justice” that is biased, with prosecutorial decisions based on the personal and national characteristics of the accused rather than on what available evidence indicates that he has done. This bias is seen in the failure to prosecute NATO personnel for acts that are comparable to those of people already indicted, and in the failure to prosecute NATO personnel for prima facie war crimes. This pattern of politically driven prosecution is accompanied by the use of the Tribunal as a tool for those Western countries that support it, and especially the United States, to pursue political goals in the Balkans. Further, the Tribunal’s rules (some of which resemble those of the Spanish Inquisition) and procedural decisions make it difficult for defendants to receive a fair trial.

From its part international tribunal whitewashes the activities of Western powers and their Muslim allies during Bosnian war as well during Kosovo conflict [1999]. While focusing to Karadzic and later Karadzic’s military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic [still awaiting trial] ICTY ignores ethnic-cleansing policies and atrocities made by Croatian and Bosnian nationalists as well Kosovo Albanian crime clans because they all were US allies.

In my opinion the decision of ICTY reflects more old realpolitik than justice. Hopefully, the Mladić trial will seriously examine the entire context that led to the massacre of Srebrenica and how a vulgar “tit-for-tat” between two armies was transformed by rhetoric into genocide.

Figting-ISIL-_-Ratko-Mladic

[Article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila]


Underground Iron Dome i.a. Against Hamas’ Terror Tunnels

March 21, 2016

IDF-SymbolIsrael  has started testing a secret new weapon for defeating the tunnel systems which the Palestinian Hamas and Hizballah are busy digging for surprise attacks  against Israel. Following Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, a  great deal of attention shifted to Israel’s need to develop a technological  solution to the underground tunnel problem.

Now, according to Foreign Policy magazine, it  appears Israel has found that solution. Western sources reported on 11th  March 2016, that the new weapon, dubbed the  “Underground Iron Dome,” can detect a tunnel, then send in a moving missile ton blow it up. The new weapon is not counter measure only against threat from Gaza  and Lebanon but against Iran nukes too.

US intelligence sources disclosed only  that new weapon is equipped with seismic sensors to detect underground  vibrations and map their location before destroying them. Western experts haven been talking for years about a secret Israeli weapon capable of destroyingn Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility, which is buried deep inside a mountain not farn from the Shiite shrine city of Qom. They suggested that this hypotheticaln weapon could be slipped through the Fordo facility’s vents, thread its way  through the underground chambers and take down the illicit enrichment facility.  It was discussed again three years ago, when the Israeli Air Force on 23rd  Aug. 2013 blew up the Popular Palestinian Front-General Command underground  facility at Al-Naama on the South Lebanese coast, 15 km south of Beirut. (Source:  DEBKAfile )

Iran keeps its ballistic missiles in underground bunkers

Iran keeps its ballistic missiles in underground bunkers

The new threat to Israel that appeared in the summer of 2014,n Operation Protective Edge was a network of terror tunnels. Now, Israel Hayom reports, Israel has built its own network of defense tunnels along the Gaza border, with the cooperation of the United  States. The US government is set to invest $120 million in developing and manufacturing the “Israeli invention” for detecting and identifying  tunnels, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense, following Congress’  approval of the budget transfer. Israel is set to invest a similar amount.  For its investment U.S. will receive  prototypes, access to test sites, and rights to any intellectual property.  Military officials estimated the costs of  setting up an advanced tunnel barrier at about 2.8 billion shekels ($710  million).

The goal, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Christopher Sherwood told Foreign Policy, “is to establish  anti-tunnel capabilities to detect, map, and neutralize underground tunnels that threaten the U.S. or Israel…”The US is in need of such a system on its
Mexico border and with the Americans in the picture, there is a chance that the  project here will start to make progress. The injection of American money and  technology will shorten the process and the system will be upgraded, meaning  that it will be deployed more quickly. (Source:
Israel Hayom  )

Among the Israeli companies working on the  tunnel-detection project are Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems,
both of which developed the Iron Dome.

Collapsing  tunnels

According Arutz Sheva  a Hamas “field commander” [Abd al-Salah al-Butnaji  from The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades,  Hamas’ armed wing]  died 14th  March 2016 in a “tunnel accident” in Gaza.

A gas pipe running through a tunnel under the Gazan town of Rafah exploded, wounding some 60-70 people, and  killing 2, according to The Jewish Press  based on Egyptian sources.  According to Al Bawab News, some 50 smuggling  tunnels were uncovered due to the explosion. 60 homes in Rafah have been  evacuated due to the explosion.  There’s  no indication at this point as to what caused the gas pipe to leak and explode.
A terror tunnel under the Gazan town of Khan Younis collapsed on 19th March 2016; three Hamas terrorists  have been wounded and five others are still missing underground.  This is the 10th or 11th terror tunnel to  collapse since December 2015.  (Source: The Jewish Press )

On Egypt-Gaza border the Egyptian military vehicles are transferring Mediterranean Sea water to the Rafah border, to fill a
newly-built crude canal, flooding and destroying the tunnels connecting Egypt and Gaza. While it is generally believed that this year’s unusually heavy rainfall  and flooding by Egyptian army are the main reason for the collapses on  Gaza-Israel border, there is growing speculation that an Israeli secret  anti-tunnel weapon is at work underground.  

Egypt, historically the Palestinians’  major backer, has brokered several truces between Israel and Gaza factions and tried to heal past rifts between rival Palestinian factions.  But Egypt has intensified a blockade of Gaza  by largely sealing the border since 2013, citing precarious security conditions  in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula where Islamist militants have launched many
deadly strikes on Egyptian soldiers. Recently Egypt accused Hamas of  involvement in last year’s assassination of Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat.  (More in
Hamas’ Relations With Egypt Worsened )

 

Robots in anti-tunnel campaign

talon_fm_f_oqweri
As part of Israel’s anti-tunnel  campaign the IDF‘s earlier recruit was a versatile little Foster-Miller military robot Talon 4 which proved he can handle himself  on the battlefields of Iraq and was drafted for use in the dangerous tunnels on  the Gaza Strip border instead of soldiers to reduce risks to troops.
In addition Israel debuted the Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR) built by Roboteam, a locally developed micro robot, to explore the labyrinth of tunnels and concealed shafts  supporting subterranean arms depots, command posts and cross-border attacksn from Gaza. After competing for more than two years with America’s leading robot providers, an Israeli newcomer to the industry through its US subsidiary has  snagged a $25 million US Air Force contract to provide its man-portable, stair-climbing, battle-tested system in support of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) missions. MTGR weighs less than 20 pounds and is built to clear  obstacles, climb 8-inch stairs and maneuver in tight, dangerous terrain. Its five onboard cameras, internal microphone and infrared laser points generate  intelligence and targeting data 360 degrees around the vehicle. (Defense News)

 

The  bottom line
One reason which angers Palestinians is a sc. siege on Gaza, which prevents the building process of the new homes since last
Gaza conflict in 2014.  As a matter of fact Palestinians should be angry with Hamas for rebuilding the tunnels instead of homes.   In fact, since the cease-fire  between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas, more than 3 million tons of construction material have entered Gaza through Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing,
according to Israeli figures. Big part of construction materials as well of other donations is used for building terror and smuggling tunnels< (More in Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption )

Hamas is in its own race against time.  From the organization’s perspective, it’s already finished its preparations for a military entanglement with Israel and is now grappling with timing. And thisn timing will be greatly affected by the pace of the Israeli project’s progress. Hamas is preparing a surprise attack. If they are led to believe for a moment that Israel has a solution that will bring its tunnels out into the open, it  will push them to bring their attack forward. The IDF is already making estimates around possibility that the collision is likely to take place within a few months. A series of gestures and events over the past few weeks attest to the building concern that the next round of fighting between Israel and Hamas will arrive sooner rather than later. It started with reports, specifically in Israel, on the certainty that Hamas’ tunnels have already entered Israeli territory.

Both Palestinian Hamas and the pro-Iranian Hizballah are working overtime on tunnels for sneaking terrorists and commando
fighters into Israel to attack IDF posts and civilian locations. During Israel’s last counter-terror operation in the Gaza Strip, Hamas staged a deadly tunnel attack on the Israel side of the border and is planning repeats. Hizballah is training commando units for underground surprise incursions to capture parts of Galilee in northern Israel. Israel still appears unable to completely counter Hamas’s subterranean advantage. And if the development of the Underground Iron Dome is any indication, it could be several years before Israel is able to employ an effective anti-tunnel system.

An injection of US cash into Israel’s anti-tunnel technology will speed up its development. But the increased activity on the Israeli side is liable to  provoke Hamas into jumping the gun and launching an early surprise attack.
Tunnel war infograph by Ari Rusila

Some  related articles:

New Israel Military Strategy

Now Israel Has The Most Advanced Missile Defense System In The World

Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

 

 

 


Hamas’ Relations With Egypt Worsened

March 13, 2016

 

Hamas = ISISResearch institute JCPA reports that Egypt has officially accused Hamas of training the terror operatives who assassinated Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat last year. Hamas now fears that Egypt will declare the movement a terror organization and torpedo Turkey’s efforts to ease the blockade of Gaza.

In recent weeks, senior Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip claimed that the movement’s relations with Egypt have improved somewhat thanks to contacts initiated by Hamas leaders. However, an announcement by the Egyptian Interior Ministry on March 6, 2016, sharply rebuffed such claims.

In a press conference, the Egyptian interior minister, General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, declared that Egyptian security forces had arrested a network of 48 Muslim Brotherhood terror operatives responsible for the assassination of Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat and that Hamas had played a “major role” in training the operatives.

The prosecutor general’s convoy after a bomb on a Cairo Street

The prosecutor general’s convoy after a bomb on a Cairo Street

Barakat was killed by a car bomb directed at his convoy as it passed through central Cairo. According General Ghaffar Barakat’s assassination had been planned by Muslim Brotherhood leaders who had found political asylum in Turkey and that the terrorists had been trained by Hamas. Hamas, he said, had played a “major role” in training and preparing the perpetrators over a period of three months. That claim was bolstered by electronic communications between Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Turkey that were intercepted by Egypt.

The Egyptian operatives had been trained in northern Sinai and then brought into Gaza with the help of Bedouin residents. At the end of the training, they returned to Sinai where they prepared the explosives for the attack. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said the terror operatives who were apprehended also planned to attack several public figures as well as foreign embassies in Egypt, with the aim of destabilizing the country.

The Balad Egyptian TV channel cited an Egyptian security expert who said the explosives used in the attack had been brought to Egypt from Qatar through diplomatic mail channels of the Qatari embassy in Egypt. Both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood maintain offices in Qatar.

Hamas – Daesh cooperation?

Egyptian authorities say Hamas is also actively assisting Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State movement’s branch in northern Sinai, and that this aid involves training its operatives in Gaza and treating its wounded fighters in Gaza hospitals. In return, Wilayat Sinai helps Hamas smuggle weapons into Gaza from Sinai.

Some similarities: Hamas-Hizbollah-ISIS

Some similarities: Hamas-Hizbollah-ISIS

The timing of the Egyptian announcement on Hamas and Turkey’s connection with the prosecutor general’s murder is not coincidental. Egypt is now under pressure from Saudi Arabia to agree to a Turkish foothold in Gaza, linked to the easing of the blockade and the building of a floating seaport that would enable Turkish ships to reach the Gaza Strip. The Egyptians strongly oppose Turkey’s demand because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed by Egypt, and because of Hamas’ involvement in terror within Egypt.

Egypt is under pressure from Saudi Arabia to agree to a Turkish foothold in Gaza. Hamas pins great hopes on Turkey’s efforts to get Israel to ease the blockade on Gaza and build the floating seaport in return for normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations. Hamas fears that Egypt will decide to declare it a terror organization, just as the Gulf States declared Hizbullah to be one on March 2, 2016. The Arab interior ministers’ meeting in Tunisia also came out in support of the move against Hizbullah.

Egypt is rejecting Hamas’ requests for a permanent opening of the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only egress to the Arab world. Since Sisi took office Egypt has opened the crossing for only a few days each year. The aim is to pressure the Hamas government, which is working with radical Islamic forces to undermine the Egyptian regime. Source and more at: Hamas’ Terrorism in Egypt Yoni Ben Menachem/JCPA

Hamas-Israel cooperation?

Easing of longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza is related to planned long ceasefire deal between Hamas’ political wing and Israel. In April 30, 2015 it was reported, that official representatives of the Israeli government and defense establishment have been holding a real dialogue with the Islamic terrorist group – Hamas – in a bid to reach a long-term calm on the Gaza border. These secret talks have been “partly direct” and partly through Qatari and European mediators. There is struggle inside Hamas between political and military wings and same time a group calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem has continued to challenge the Gaza-ruling Palestinian entity Hamas.

From point of view Fatah (PLO/West Bank) Hamas’ agreement to establish a seaport under Israel’s full supervision and opposition to transferring the Rafah crossing to PA control, constitute clear proof of Hamas’ intentions to sever Gaza from “the homeland.”

More in my articles What’s Going On In Gaza (And Mideast Peace) and Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

Egypt is implementing sc Gaza blockade

Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007 the imposition of a sc blockade or siege took place. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed since June 2013 by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah Crossing. Egypt is now implementing measures which will totally block unofficial traffic aka smuggling. In my opinion Egypt not Israel is blocking Gaza today.

Egyptian military vehicles are transferring Mediterranean Sea water to the Rafah border, to fill a newly-built crude canal, flooding and destroying the lifeline tunnels connecting Egypt and blockaded Gaza. By canal the Egyptian government is trying to economically crush Hamas, an ally of the Muslim brotherhood. Egypt is planning that sea water will flood into any remaining undiscovered tunnels and completely destroy them. So called Gaza blockade or siege is one of the main causes or excuse – depending from viewpoint – for flotillas, BDS, EU’s labelling plans, anti-Semitism, donations to Hamas, humanitarian crisis etc. Given the facts referred above one could conclude that blaming Israel for blockade is at least unjust. (More in Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel! )

Egypt discovers enormous tunnels coming from Gaza

YNetNews reported on 11th March 2016 that tunnels big enough to fit a truck have been discovered by the Egyptian military on the Sinai-Gaza border. These tunnels are allegedly the source of weapons being used by ISIS and Islamic Jihad in the peninsula, and point to a thriving weapons industry in the Strip. The tunnels connect the Gaza Strip with the Sinai Peninsula, and are being built in order to compensate for the tunnels which were flooded or blocked by the Egyptians.

Israeli security officials don’t know of any tunnels that large crossing into Israel. However, if they do exist, Israel will have to take into account the possibility of the existence of tunnels that are over three kilometers in length, which will make them harder to find.

Israel estimates that the recent increase in the number of tunnel collapses in Gaza in the past several months is due to the increased difficulty in obtaining materials to structurally support the tunnels – principally wood and cement. To replace these materials, Hamas is using fiberglass, which is also illegal to import into the Strip. Hamas still tries to smuggle it in, even though the material can’t support the same amount of weight as cement, and collapses.

The Egyptian government also notes another worrying phenomenon regarding the relations between Hamas and the terrorist organizations in the Sinai: it turns out that Hamas has become a weapons exporter to Egypt  – the export of weapons made in the Gaza Strip in industrial quantaties is a new phenomenon which indicates a new level of institutionalization of the weapons manufacturing process in the Strip.

Hamas' tunnelIn the past several months, several types of weapons were found by Egyptian security forces which bear the markings of being manufactured by the Hamas military wing. Amongst the weapons found were solar water heaters filled with explosive materials, which are one of the deadliest weapons ISIS in Sinai uses against the Egyptian military. The solar water heaters are used as ‘Improvised explosive devices’ (IEDs) with the ability to take out a tank. 

The Egyptian government also claims that ISIS shoots Hamas-made rockets at Egyptian military bases in the peninsula. Hamas also ships weapons from the Gaza Strip to elements affiliated with global Islamic Jihad which is active in Sinai. These are weapons which were smuggled into Gaza either by the Iranians or from Libya, which then ended up in the hands of the jihadists.  Source: YNetNews

10th March 2016 again at least seven Palestinians digging a wide tunnel to smuggle “goods” under the divided Gaza-Egyptian town of Rafah died when the Egyptian army flooded the tunnel with sea water and caused its collapse.

Bottom line

The relations between Egypt and Hamas are one core question in (partial) Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Besides planned Hamas-Israel ceasefire deal Egypt has a decisive role if sc ‘Sinai option’ (more in Sinai Option again ) will go further as partial solution to conflict. Also even without these kind progress Egypt’s actions with Rafah crossing have great importance for welfare of Gaza population.

sinai option by Ari Rusila

 

 


Article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila


Now Israel Has The Most Advanced Missile Defense System In The World

March 6, 2016

The massive ‘Juniper Cobra 2016’ exercise, a US-Israel air defense drill, concluded 3rd March 2016. The drill ended just two days after Israel’s Defense Ministry announced it would be enhancing the capabilities of David’s Sling, a system designed to handle Iranian-grade missiles. The drill is the first of its kind to include David’s Sling, which is expected to come fully online during 2016, and also the first such drill involving six different air defense systems: The US linked its Aegis, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and Patriot systems with Israeli Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and the Iron Dome in a single simulation, for the bi-annual drill, the IAF source said.

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Juniper Cobra is the eighth in a series of biennial exercises between the two militaries dating back to 2001, and is an important part of the training of both the US EUCOM and the IDF. A five-day combined military exercise of Israel and the United States, it is built to provide training in case of a ballistic missile attack from Iran. Sources: IHS Jane’s , Jerusalem Post and IDF

In December 2015, Israel and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency celebrated successful tests of two new ballistic missile defense systems — David’s Sling, which is designed to intercept short- and medium-range threats, and ­Arrow-3, which is intended to stop long-range attacks and knock out enemy targets in space by deploying “kamikaze satellites,” or “kill vehicles,” that track their targets. David’s Sling and Arrow-3 will join Iron Dome and the existing Arrow-2 in coming months.

 

David’s Sling

David’s Sling is considered the most innovative and revolutionary among interceptor systems in the world. This system, which will be a part of a multi-layered defense system being developed by the Missile Defense Directorate in collaboration with the Air Force, would allow Israel to deal more effectively with a wide range of current and future threats to its safety. The system is designed primarily to handle the kinds of rockets and missiles, built by Iran and Russia, that are now in the possession of the Hizbollah militia in Lebanon and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Beyond the threat posed by the splintering of Syria, Israel is worried that Syrian missiles could be transferred to Hezbollah or acquired by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. In a recent speech, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah threatened that his militia’s missiles could strike ammonia storage tanks in Israel’s Haifa port in a future showdown with Israel, warning that the damage would be equivalent to an atomic bomb and could kill 800,000 people.

The delivery process is gradual, according to David’s Sling development plan, and is expected to go on for a few weeks. In the first phase, the project’s managers began delivering the interception, command and control, and radar systems. The IAF will now start testing the performance of all of the system’s components, following which the system will be declared operational.

Israel missile defence By Ari Rusila figure

 

 

Israel’s Multilayered Missile Defences

The Israeli defense establishment and its American partners have designed a layered system that will allow the Jewish state to respond to simultaneous attacks from multiple fronts — the relatively crude homemade rockets lobbed by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, the midrange rockets and missiles fired by the Shiite militants of Hezbollah from Lebanon, and the long-range ballistic missiles being developed by Iran that could carry conventional or chemical warheads.

iron-domeThe multi-platform system includes the Iron Dome, which stops low-accuracy rockets like those fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip or from the Sinai e.g. by ISIS-Sinai Province (aka former ‘Ansar Bait al-Maqdis’ – ABM) . Recently more Iron Dome batteries have been upgraded. The system’s interception range has been significantly extended over the past two years.

David’s Sling is designed to bridge the lower and upper tiers of Israel’s four-layer active defence network. It will be deployed above Israel’s Iron Dome and below the upper-atmospheric Arrow-2 and exo-atmospheric Arrow-3. It is to be particularly useful in defending against the vast and increasingly precise arsenal of Syrian 302mm rockets and Iranian half-ton warhead-equipped Fatah 110 rockets in the hands of Lebanon-based Hizbollah. It also is designed to defend against Scud B-class ballistic missiles, which can deliver one-ton warheads at ranges of some 300 kilometers.

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The successful Arrow 3 interception test carried out in December 2015 has brought forward the system’s initial operating capability date, which is now expected before the end of 2016. The operationalisation of Arrow 3, which is designed to intercept ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere, will complete Israel’s multilayered missile defences.

Additionally, Israel’s new X-Band radar system will allow it to detect incoming missiles from up to 600 miles out, compared to its current radar tracking capability of 100 miles. The system can also calculate the trajectories of rockets and missiles, stopping the incoming projectiles if they are intended for cities, military bases, or important infrastructure, while holding its fire if the incoming projectiles end up landing in unpopulated areas.

“I define the system as pioneering,” Uzi Rubin, the former director of Israel’s missile defence program, told the Post. “Even the United States doesn’t have anything as complex, as sophisticated.” The system will also be able to prioritize incoming rockets and missiles by calculating their trajectories. Some missiles may not be intercepted, if their targets are fields and farms, but projectiles that would hit populated areas or important infrastructure — such as military bases, oil refineries and nuclear facilities — would be stopped.

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However Israel’s military leaders warn civilians that no air defense ­system is perfect — or even close to it. “There is no hermetic defense or total security that will intercept everything fired at Israel. In the next real war, rockets will fall on the State of Israel,” said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the Israeli air force’s Aerial Defense Division. Source: The Washington Post

 

The outcome: Qualitative military edge (QME)

When it is complete, Israel’s multibillion-dollar rocket and missile air defense system will be far superior to anything in the Middle East and will likely rival, and in some ways surpass, in speed and targeting, air defenses deployed by Europe and the United States, its developers say. The United States has provided more than $3.3 billion over the past 10 years to support the defensive system, which will be able to knock down not only ballistic missiles but also orbiting satellites. The Israeli missile defense system is being built in partnership with U.S. defense contractors, including Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Almost all current US aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. U.S. military aid has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world. U.S. military aid for Israel has been designed to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” (QME) over neighboring militaries. The rationale for QME is that Israel must rely on better equipment and training to compensate for being much smaller geographically and in terms of population than its potential adversaries. U.S. military aid, a portion of which may be spent on procurement from Israeli defense companies, also has helped Israel build a domestic defence industry, which ranks as one of the top 10 suppliers of arms worldwide.


Why Israel’s new defense system is one of the most advanced in the world:

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