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

26 December 2021

Is Israel Facing Up To Reality On Hamas and Hezbollah?

Tony Badran

On Dec. 10, a large explosion rocked the Palestinian camp Burj al-Shemali outside the southern Lebanon city of Tyre. The site of the explosion was a center belonging to the Palestinian terror group Hamas that includes a mosque and a health clinic. Residents told local media that a fire from the blast spread to the mosque, where it triggered the explosion of weapons stored inside.

On the surface, the explosion served as a reminder of Hamas’ habitual use of civilian structures for military purposes and of the group’s military activity in Lebanon. But, more important, the incident highlighted that Israel may finally be breaking with its shortsighted public posture that Hezbollah bears no responsibility for Hamas’ activity. Shortly before the explosion at Burj al-Shemali, there were long overdue signs of Israel developing a new willingness to acknowledge reality and hold Hezbollah responsible for attacks carried out in the country the group controls.

In 2018, Israel publicized an assessment of Hamas building training camps and weapons facilities in Lebanon with assistance from Hezbollah, but its posture toward Hezbollah in Lebanon mostly impeded its willingness to take any overt action to deter the buildup. Then the issue resurfaced this past May, during the brief war between Israel and Hamas. While the fighting was focused in Gaza and southern Israel, on three separate occasions that month, an unidentified group, which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the time maintained was a Palestinian faction, fired rockets at Israel from southern Lebanon. Most of them landed in the Mediterranean or failed to make it into Israeli territory. The IDF responded with artillery shelling, and that was the end of it. No second front opened up in the north, and Hezbollah didn’t join the fray.

3 December 2021

2 US defense officials say Israel hacked Iran’s gas system last month — NYT

TOI STAFF

Israel carried out a cyber attack against Iran’s nationwide fuel system last month, two United States defense officials told the New York Times in a report published Saturday.

Days later, Iran-affiliated hackers breached an Israeli LGBTQ dating site and released details of its users in a cyber attack that roiled Israel.

The exchange points to a new trend of targeting civilians in the shadow war between Israel and Iran. The two attacks appear to be the first that caused widespread harm to civilians, auguring an escalation in the cyber conflict as softer targets are drawn into the line of fire.

The hack of Iran’s gas distribution system began on October 26, shutting down civilian gas pumps and broadcasting digital messages blaming Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The cyber attack brought all of the country’s 4,300 fuel distribution stations to a halt, resulting in traffic jams, long lines at gas stations and other transportation problems.

1 December 2021

Israel and Iran Broaden Cyberwar to Attack Civilian Targets

Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman

Millions of ordinary people in Iran and Israel recently found themselves caught in the crossfire of a cyberwar between their countries. In Tehran, a dentist drove around for hours in search of gasoline, waiting in long lines at four gas stations only to come away empty.

In Tel Aviv, a well-known broadcaster panicked as the intimate details of his sex life, and those of hundreds of thousands of others stolen from an L.G.B.T.Q. dating site, were uploaded on social media.

For years, Israel and Iran have engaged in a covert war, by land, sea, air and computer, but the targets have usually been military or government related. Now, the cyberwar has widened to target civilians on a large scale.

28 November 2021

Israel Unveils 'Revolutionary' New Scorpius Electronic Warfare System

Paul Iddon

Israel has recently unveiled a new electronic warfare system called Scorpius that its manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries, says has capabilities that will revolutionize electronic warfare.

Asked about the namesake of this system, Gideon Fustick, Marketing VP EW Group at IAI, said it intends to convey “the sense of an innocuous thing that actually has a very powerful sting.”

“We call it ‘soft protection.’ It’s an offensive weapon that doesn’t send out missiles. It’s not a hard-kill system,” Fustick told me. “And yet it is very effective in engaging and disabling enemy systems.”

Here’s why IAI thinks this new system is in a league of its own.

‘A whole new generation in electronic warfare.’

3 February 2020

Why Israel Might Use Its F-35s to Destroy Iran's Cruise Missiles

by Seth J. Frantzman

Key point: Israel has been exploring how it can best use the F-35 to defend itself. That means using its range and stealth to reach enemy launch sites.

The F-35 radar is the most advanced for fighter jets, according to F-35 developer Lockheed Martin. “It enables the F-35 to be capable of identifying and intercepting airborne threats flying at a low altitude and at high speeds,” a company spokesman said on December 18. That’s important considering the emerging threats Israel now faces from Iran and Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah which are seeking precision guidance for their rocket arsenal. Iran is accused of using cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia in September. The F-35’s radar can play a role in neutralizing these kinds of threats.

Gary North, vice-president for customer requirements for Lockheed Martin says that the F-35 AN/APG-81 AESA radar can enable the interception of low altitude airborne threats. The radar is a key element of the F-35 supplied by Northrop Grumman. It is an active electronically scanned array that provides situational awareness and a view of the battlespace. “The electronically scanned nature of the AESA allows it to quickly scan any direction, compared to a mechanically scanned radar,” Avionics International notes. It sponges up data and enables the F-35 to perform its mission in combination with all the other technology and data links that fifth-generation militaries are using today. Missile Defense Review noted in early 2019 that the F-35 can “track and destroy adversary cruise missiles” and pointed out the aircraft will have other missile defense capabilities.

24 December 2019

Should the United States and Israel Make It Official?

Steven Simon

In the long-running melodrama of the U.S.-Israel relationship, certain plot devices have a way of periodically reappearing. For example, successive U.S. administrations have gently insisted that settlement construction be frozen or otherwise limited. No White House was ever willing to go to the mat over settlement activity, as two of the architects of the peace process recently wrote, but expressions of concern were nonetheless a recurring motif.

Another example might be the perennial agitation, usually by Israeli officials, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or members of Congress, in favor of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such demands used to be linked automatically to a ritual waiver of U.S. legislation, enacted in 1995, requiring the State Department to carry out the move. But President Donald Trump’s administration departed from tradition last year and actually made the move, amid a lot of wailing and breast-beating by skeptics who expected the sky to fall as a result.

Yet another of these leitmotifs has been the periodic flirtation by U.S. and Israeli observers with idea of a U.S.-Israel defense treaty. Most recently it has been raised by Israel’s embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to boost public support for his effort to keep his job.

26 November 2019

Israel's New Way of War

Seth Frantzman

Commuters on Route 4, driving toward the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod on November 12, were shocked by an explosion, a rocket impact next to a major intersection. Had it fallen on a car or one of the many trucks plying the route, there would have been deaths, and the road would have been closed. Instead, police and Israeli Home Front Command units came and cordoned off the sidewalk, and drivers went about their day.

Twenty-five miles south of where the rocket landed, other rocket teams from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Iranian-backed terrorist group, were preparing to fire more than 400 rockets at Israel during a brief flare-up in fighting. Most of them would be intercepted by Israel's high-tech air defense.

More than 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel since March 2018.

The ability of millions of Israelis to mostly go about their day while Israel's air force carries out precision air strikes nearby is due to Israel's latest achievements in fighting war. It also comes with questions about whether Israel is being effective and what this latest revolution in military affairs means in the long term.

Israel Demolished Iranian Republican Guard Corps HQs in Syria in Retaliation for Rocket Attack

by Sebastien Roblin

What happens next? Is a Middle East War possible? 

What prompted this ineffectual attack from Iranian forces?

Like the Ouroboros, the snake that is forever preoccupied devouring its own tail, the side-show war between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria seemingly stretches out into an infinite series of violent affronts repaid in kind.

Since 2013, Iran has built up a military presence in Syria not only to combat rebels opposing the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad, but to build up a military infrastructure that could pressure Israel, including by transferring arms to proxies like Hezbollah. Over that same period of time, Israel has retaliated with hundreds of airstrikes blasting the Iranian bases.

For example, in August, Israel warplanes killed two people in an attack described as pre-empting a scheme to deploy a swarm of drones to attack targets in Israel.

Several commentators have connected the November 19 rocket attack is being a response to Israel’s assassinated Bahaa Abu al-Ata, the commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with a surprise air strike in Gaza on November 12. The same day, Syria reported a reported missile attack on the home of another PIL leader living in Damascus named Akram al-Ajouri, killing his son and one bystander.

As Gaza Falls Apart, The Next Israel-Hamas War Is Becoming More Likely

by Ram Yavne, Ari Cicurel

A casual observer could be forgiven for presuming Israel and Hamas again stand on the precipice of war as rockets fly over Tel Aviv and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strike key Hamas leadership targets in response. Despite the volatile situation in Gaza this past year, including ongoing attacks incited by Hamas along the border, both sides are exploring a ceasefire rather than escalating to a fourth major conflict in a decade. A form of mutual deterrence has evolved that enables, and indeed encourages, both sides to limit the violence and avoid full-scale war.

While offering a sliver of hope for stability, this tenuous equilibrium between a liberal democracy and a terrorist group could collapse in the near future, due to Gaza’s humanitarian situation and the ubiquitous potential for miscalculation between adversaries.

The current incentive for both sides to limit the violence results from various military and political factors in recent years. On the operational level, Israel’s ability to intercept rockets and detect cross-border tunnels from Gaza limits the amount of damage Hamas can inflict, mitigating Israel’s imperative to respond as forcefully or rapidly as it did before these defenses came online.

Israel’s Netanyahu is indicted amid political gridlock

Natan Sachs and Kevin Huggard

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ended months of speculation today in announcing his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The move caps a dramatic and tumultuous year in Israeli politics. If convicted, Netanyahu could face prison time, potentially making him the second consecutive Israeli prime minister — after Ehud Olmert — to go to prison.

Mandelblit’s decision was not in and of itself a surprise, but that this indictment will include a charge of bribery, the most serious charge Netanyahu faced, represents the worst possible legal and political outcome for the prime minister. Netanyahu reacted to the announcement by sticking to his message: that he is the victim of a political witch hunt, accusing the state authorities of an attempted coup, no less. It is worth remembering that this attorney general, a civil servant (Israel has a separate political post of minister of justice) was a former Netanyahu aide and was appointed by him to this post. Netanyahu will not go quietly.

That this indictment will include a charge of bribery…represents the worst possible legal and political outcome for the prime minister.

21 November 2019

The Importance of the Tactical Level: The Arab-Israeli War of 1973

Lorris Beverelli

It is widely agreed that there are three levels of war.[1] From the general to the local, they are the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Strategy is the alignment of means and ways to accomplish a political end. Strategy is about winning the war. Tactics consist of locally achieving victory through a series of actions that, taken globally, participate directly or indirectly in the accomplishment of strategy. Tactics are typically about winning battles. Finally, operations consist of connecting the tactics to the strategy. To do so, the operational level aims to create campaigns—a series of tactical actions which pursue specific operational aims—to ultimately accomplish specific strategic goals. The operational level is typically about winning a series of campaigns to accomplish the stated strategy.

Each level of war is essential to achieve success, and are all equally important. The Arab-Israeli War of 1973 provides an illustration of why the tactical level is essential. This article will first provide elements to understand the broader aspect of the conflict, before demonstrating how the lack of tactical skill doomed the attackers.

The war between Israel and Hamas has its roots in Britain's shameful betrayal of the Palestinians

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Israeli soldiers stand in front of a banner with a copy of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (a leader of the British Jewish community) known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as Palestinians, Israeli and foreign protesters demonstrate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on November 06, 2010. 

You’ve seen the pictures, read about the bloodshed, heard the accusations. The military head of Hamas was assassinated by Israel in Gaza. Rockets fired in retaliation killed three Israelis and Israel then went into overkill. The November anniversary of the Balfour declaration is marked not with wimpy fireworks but real bombs, big bangs.

It is exactly 95 years since Lord Balfour, the then Foreign Secretary, informed Baron Rothschild that Britain would back a new Jewish state on Palestinian territory as demanded by Zionists, some of them terrorists who had attacked British targets. Lord Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish member of the UK cabinet, objected vehemently to the decision: “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto and you want to force me back there again”. He was overruled by his colleagues, some of them avowed anti-Semites.

19 November 2019

Israel Tests New Air-Ground Tactics Vs. Islamic Jihad

By ARIE EGOZI

The Israeli Air Force just wrapped up a “Blue Flag” wargame with the US & European allies and a real war with Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

An Israeli F-35I takes off from Uvda airbase during Blue Flag 2019.

TEL AVIV: Today, the Israeli Air Force concluded its latest Blue Flag wargames at its Uvda airbase in the Negev Desert, less than 100 miles away from an active war zone in the Gaza Strip — under 10 minutes’ flight time for a loaded fighter jet at cruising speed. For days, Israeli, US, German, Italian, and Greek fighters, including stealthy F-35s, had practiced dogfights and airstrikes against simulated air defenses, even as other IAF units conducted real airstrikes and real anti-rocket defense against Islamic Jihad.

An Italian Air Force pilot poses in front of his F-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon during the 2019 Blue Flag exercises at Uvda airbase in Israel.

The ability to wage real war and simulated war at the same time, using new and sophisticated tactics in both cases, is a testament to the growing capabilities of the Israeli Air Force. “The fact that the Israeli Air Force had to perform strikes against targets in Gaza, parallel to its participation in the exercise, was the best demonstration of how an advanced aerial force is operating,” an Israeli source told Breaking Defense.

17 September 2019

Trump Must Not Give Israel a Blank Check in the Middle East

by Dalia Dassa Kaye

Israel has a right to defend itself, but not at the expense of regional stability and American interests.

Israel’s military campaign against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria, Lebanon, and reportedly Iraq might seem like an appealing way to subcontract parts of the Trump administration’s pressure campaign against Iran, but it may be time to ask whether these attacks are serving the interests of the United States—especially in Iraq.

There is little debate among external powers about Israeli attacks in Syria, where Israel is one of many actors vying to protect or promote their interests in the war-torn country. For Israel, Iran’s growing presence in Syria—which, like Russia’s presence, bolsters the Assad regime—has been the primary focus of its concern. Israel is less worried about Assad’s fate than about the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and Hezbollah moving weaponry and producing missiles that could threaten its borders, potentially creating a second front beyond Hezbollah’s well-established position in Lebanon. 

11 September 2019

Double Trouble


On Sunday, Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles against the Israeli military, the first incident of its kind since the 2006 war between the two sides. This followed an Israeli drone attack a week earlier on a building housing Hezbollah’s media center in Beirut’s southern suburbs. It was later suggested that Israel had targeted an industrial mixer necessary for the production of propellant for missiles.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah would retaliate from Lebanese territory for the drone attack. After the party did so on Sunday, both sides could claim success. The Israelis for having purportedly destroyed equipment critical for Hezbollah’s missile manufacturing capacity, Hezbollah for having reaffirmed its deterrence capabilities. Even as both sides scored points with their constituencies, neither seems to want a war. There are several reasons contributing to this.

The escalation needs to be seen in light of the broader regional standoff between Iran and the United States. It is becoming increasingly clear that while the United States has used sanctions to tighten the economic and financial noose around Iran, Israel has been tasked with upping the ante on the military front. In light of this, Hezbollah viewed retaliation for the drone attack as necessary to deter Israel’s efforts to change the rules of engagement with the party, whom the Israelis have accused of manufacturing precision missiles. Therefore, even as they fired on each other, both sides were focused mainly on defining the parameters of their future confrontation, not on mobilizing for a major conflict—at least for now.

27 August 2019

Israel eases rules on cyber weapons exports despite criticism

Tova Cohen, Ari Rabinovitch

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel is easing export rules on offensive cyber weapons, despite accusations by human rights and privacy groups that its technologies are used by some governments to spy on political foes and crush dissent.

A rule change by the defense ministry means companies can now obtain exemptions on marketing license for the sale of some products to specific countries, a source close to the cyber sector told Reuters.

Israel, like other big defense exporters, closely guards details of its weapons sales and its export rules are not widely known, but the defense ministry confirmed the change had gone into force about a year ago in response to Reuters’ questions.

Industry specialists say the change makes a speedier approval process possible for the sale of cyber weapons, or spyware, which are used to break into electronic devices and monitor online communications.

1 July 2019

From Iran to Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Trump’s Economic Focus Misses the Point

Ellen Laipson

President Donald Trump views foreign policy through the narrow lens of economic self-interest. He has reduced the notion of American power and influence to a question of whether the United States is getting a “good deal,” measured only in terms of who is paying for what—say, the cost of basing U.S. troops. Gone are any references to the intangible benefits of international cooperation, let alone the common good. It’s how he has approached relations with NATO and with America’s allies in Asia. In recent days, this economic-centric view of U.S. foreign policy has been on display in Trump’s clumsy and erratic Iran policy, and in the underwhelming rollout of his so-called plan for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. 

Economic incentives and economic pressures are, of course, legitimate tools of international relations and fall along a continuum from positive inducements and peaceful transactions to coercion and pressure that, if insufficient in achieving their aims, can be precursors to open hostilities and war. Think U.S. oil sanctions against Japan in the run-up to World War II, or, at the other end of the spectrum, the Marshall Plan as an American investment in Europe’s postwar economic recovery that created huge political and security benefits to the U.S. that lasted for decades. 

26 June 2019

The Jerusalem Talks

George Friedman

On Monday, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton will meet with his Israeli and Russian counterparts in Jerusalem. A trilateral meeting such as this is odd to begin with, and one taking place amid the situation currently unfolding in the Middle East even more so. Also interesting is that this meeting is taking place in Jerusalem. While Russia maintains decent relations with Israel, a meeting of this sort in Jerusalem would seem to indicate a Russian indifference to Muslim sensibilities – something Israel and the U.S. display regularly. Still, they’ve agreed to meet in Jerusalem this time, optics aside. Topping the meeting agenda, purportedly, is Syria. But there’s plenty else going on in the Middle East for the three to discuss.

The officials will meet in the midst of intensifying tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Last week, the U.S. blamed Iran for attacks on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, and this week Iran shot down an American drone. On Friday, news broke that the U.S. had been ready to launch airstrikes in response to the downed drone, but that U.S. President Donald Trump had called off the attacks at the last minute, feeling they would have caused disproportional casualties. That may be true, or the White House may have been bluffing an attack to unnerve the Iranians; Trump has been intimating a desire for talks with Iran and may have been trying to force Tehran to the table. Whatever the intent, tensions in the Persian Gulf remain high.

16 May 2019

Why Gaza hasn’t erupted into all-out war

Daniel L. Byman

A ceasefire on Monday ended one of the worst rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014. Four Israelis and more than 20 Palestinians died in two days of conflict, which followed a violent demonstration along the border fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip and the shooting of two Israeli soldiers. Palestinian militant groups fired almost 700 missiles into Israel, most of which landed harmlessly—but several struck homes or other targets in Israel.

Israel bombed hundreds of targets in Gaza, striking Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad facilities and killing a military commander it claimed had links to Iran, resuming a practice of targeted killings it had put on pause. As always, responsibility for civilian dead is hotly disputed, but the Palestinians count two pregnant women and two infants among the dead.

The latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas illustrates not only the constant potential for conflict in Gaza but also—perhaps more counterintuitively—why the combustible situation there has not exploded into outright war. Some Israeli citizens this week called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to escalate the fight, and some militants welcome a broader clash. But both sides have reasons for restraint. Hamas leaders recognize their own military, political and diplomatic weakness; a longer war would achieve little and leave Gaza in even worse shape. And Israel, for its part, recognizes that a weak extremist regime in Gaza is better than the collapse of order in the strip or the rise of an even more radical group there. As Israeli security analyst Gabi Siboni pointed out, “If Israel collapses the Hamas regime, what comes after? Every alternative is awful.”

15 May 2019

Israel and Hamas come close to war


It should have been a celebratory weekend. Israelis were getting ready to mark their 71st independence day. In Gaza 2m Palestinians were making final preparations for the month-long Ramadan holiday, which began on May 6th. And then the rockets and bombs started falling. Residents on both sides spent the weekend cowering under rocket fire and air strikes. Four Israelis were killed, the first civilians to die in fighting with Gaza since a brief but brutal war in 2014. On the Palestinian side 27 people, a mix of militants and civilians, died. As in previous bouts of conflict, the fighting ended with a truce brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the un. And, as before, no one expects it to last.

Such has been the pattern since March 2018, when residents of Gaza began holding regular protests at the barrier separating their enclave from Israel. The protests are meant to call attention to the dire economic situation in the territory, which is blockaded by Israel and Egypt, with only essential supplies allowed in. These restrictions have been in place since 2007 when Hamas, a militant Islamist group, took power. Tensions have risen over the past year, with exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas every few months.