US President Barack Obama’s first engagement upon landing in Israel on March 20 will be a quick tour of the Iron Dome missile interceptor stationed at Ben Gurion international airport. After a round of handshakes, the officers and men operating the system will explain how it works.
In normal circumstances, personal security arrangements for a US presidential foreign visit are kept under close wraps and rarely visible to the public.
This time, DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources report, the visit’s planners made an exception. They decided there was no option but to visibly install an Iron Dome battery inside the airport, because the first battery plus a Patriot interceptor stationed for more than two months north and south of Tel Aviv were not sufficient guarantee of security against rocket attack for President Obama’s arrival. Continue reading
Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel warned Tuesday, Jan. 29, that Syria is falling apart and no one knows what the next day may bring: “War may not break out tomorrow,” he said, “but we stand ready for any eventuality.”
If war is not expected tomorrow, why have Israel’s armed forces, including the air force, been on their highest level of preparedness since Friday, Jan. 25? The Syrian crisis may not technically fit the description of a state of war. However, the violent turbulence in that country may at any time spill over the border into hostilities in some shape or form.
If this happens, said the officer, “A decision to attack Syria or Lebanon will need to be implemented immediately.” Continue reading
Two long-range Fajr-5 missiles exploded Friday, Nov. 16 on open ground in and around Tel Aviv without causing casualties or damage. Warning sirens sounded first. Residents told to open bomb shelters. Three civilians were injured in the Eshkol district in the continuous Palestinian rocket fire raking southern towns and villages from early Friday morning. Iron Dome intercepted some missiles before they hit Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon in salvoes. Israeli ground forces continue to build up on the Gaza border awaiting government orders to go in.
debkafile reported earflier Friday: As Hamas government officials greeted Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil on his arrival for a short visit to the Gaza Strip, Friday morning, Nov. 16, Palestinian rocket crews stepped up their barrage against Israel. After Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acceded to Cairo’s request to suspend military action for the visit, air strikes were resumed over northern Gaza to counter Palestinians fire across the South: Dozens of rockets exploded in Beersheba, Ashdod, Hof Ashkelon, Ashkelon, Shear Hanegev, Ofakim, Sderot, Eshkol and Kiryat Malachi. There were several panic victims and direct hits to houses. Continue reading
Israel’s deteriorating security situation erupted simultaneously on two fronts Sunday, Nov. 11. The IDF fired a Tamuz precision guided missile against a mortar position 4 kilometers inside Syria after a stray mortar hit the IDF Golan defense post at Tel Hazaka. It was the fourth incident of cross-border violence from the Syrian conflict in 10 days and the first time Israel had fired across the Golan border since the 1973 war. The Tamuz was developed by RAFAEL and is operated from specially modified M-113 Hafiz armored personnel carriers.
At the same time, on the southern front, Palestinians fired Grad missiles from Gaza at the city of Beersheba after loosing a barrage of 60 missiles in less than 24 hours against multiple Israeli civilian locations. Iron Dome intercepted one of the missiles. Continue reading
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The U.S. and Israel simulated rocket attacks during their largest-ever joint military drill Wednesday, just as as real ones fired from Gaza exploded in southern Israel.
U.S. military officials insisted the joint exercise, called Austere Challenge 2012, was planned long before the latest flare-up between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza and a long-running debate over how to deal with Iran, unrelated to specific threats facing Israel. Continue reading
Israel is conducting mass casualty drills to train the nation for a national disaster which focuses on responding to an earthquake but which military officials admitted was also a rehearsal for how to respond to war.
Mired in conflict since before its birth in 1948, Israel’s first ever national disaster drill envisages 7,000 dead, 70,000 casualties and 170,000 made homeless as a consequence of an earthquake along the Rift Valley fault. Continue reading
Patriot, Iron Dome, Arrow missile defense shields to be tested; forces to simulate Unmanned Aerial Vehicle intrusion; 1,000 US troops to arrive in Israel, 2,000 more to participate remotely from US, Europe. Continue reading
Israel has withdrawn its pledge to US President Barack Obama not to strike Iran’s nuclear sites before the November presidential election after he rejected its minimal demands for nuclear negotiations with Iran. This is reported exclusively by debkafile’s Washington sources.
When Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon on May 17 he was told that Obama had rejected Israel’s toned-down demands for Iran to at least to halt high-grade uranium enrichment, export its stocks of material enriched higher than 3.5 percent grade and shut down production at the Fordo nuclear plant near Qom.
A week of consultations followed the defense minister’s return home, during which it was decided to tear up Israel’s pledge to refrain from attacking Iran during the US presidential campaign. Wednesday, May 23, the day the Baghdad talks began, Barak signaled Washington to this effect.
It was conveyed in a little-noticed early morning radio interview with the defense minister. To make sure his words reached the proper address without misunderstandings, the defense minister’s office issued a verbatim English translation from the Hebrew:
“There is no need to tell us what to do, and we have no reason to panic. Israel is very, very strong, but we do know that the Iranians are accomplished chess players and will try to achieve nuclear capabilities. Our position has not changed. The world must stop Iran from becoming nuclear. All options remain on the table.”
As the Baghdad talks went around in circles, Israel’s military option was put back firmly on the table and on the US-Iranian chessboard.
Full article: Israel revives military option after Obama rejects its nuclear demands of Iran (DEBKAfile)
Despite cost and lack of deployed units being the dominant issues, the Iron Dome proves it’s not only functional but effective during a real event.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated Saturday night, “We will continue to improve home front defense including by means of additional Iron Dome systems, the effectiveness of which was shown again over the weekend.”
The Iron Dome system intercepted about 90 percent of the rockets fired at Be’er Sheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon, including three on Sunday morning.
Full article: Iron Dome Foils 90 Percent of Missiles (Arutz Sheva)
Missile system critical to protecting against Iranian threat
For the second straight year, President Obama is seeking to decrease funding to joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs.
Tucked within Obama’s 2013 budget proposal is a request to reduce the amount of money Israel receives for its critical missile defense systems by $6.3 million relative to the 2012 budget proposal. Among these defense systems are Arrow and David’s Sling, both of which are jointly operated with the U.S.
Publicly, the president has referred to himself as a stalwart champion of the U.S.-Israel military alliance. But administration efforts to reduce the amount of missile defense aid that Israel receives appear to be a growing trend in the president’s budget proposals.
Full article: Obama Budget Decreases Missile Funding to Israel (Washington Free Beacon)
A successful joint exercise carried out Friday, Feb. 10, demonstrated the interoperability of the US Aegis and Israel’s Arrow 4 ballistic missile defense systems and, most importantly, of their two radars, the US AN/TPY-2 X-band and Israel’s EL/M-2080 Super Green Pine, debkafile’s military sources report.
It was a key milestone in the development of the US missile shield’s Middle East capabilities ahead of a potential war with Iran and the fourth significant preparatory step taken in the last ten days.
On the East Coast of the United States, the large-scale Bold Alligator 2012 exercise is drilling amphibian landings on a fictitious Iranian shore; in the Middle East, an American airlift this week ferried reinforcements to the Persian Gulf over Sinai; the Iranian army is in the middle of a major war game “under war conditions” opposite the Strait of Hormuz; and Israel is putting the finishing touches to its new Depth Command set up for operations behind enemy lines.
Full article: Successful US-Israel radar test launches US missile shield’s operational phase (DEBKAfile)