Archive for October 10th, 2009

SWI NEWS: 23 Tishrei 5770, Sunday, October 11, 2009

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Iran Threatens to 'Blow Up the Heart' of Israel

A senior Iranian official threatened to "blow up the heart" of Israel if the Jewish State or the United States attacks Iran.

"Even if one American or Zionist missile hits our country, before the dust settles, Iranian missiles will blow up the heart of Israel," Mojtaba Zolnour said according to news agency reports quoting the official Iranian IRNA news agency.

Zolnour is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in Iran's elite military force - the Revolutionary Guard.

Israel, the U.S. and many Western countries believe that Iran is clandestinely using its nuclear program to develop an atomic bomb - charges that Iran denies.

Last week, U.S. and other Western officials opened a dialogue with Iranian officials, with the goal of putting the breaks on Iran's development of a nuclear weapon. The U.S. was also pushing for heavy economic sanctions against Iran if it doesn't cooperate.

But many experts say that Iran is dialoguing just to buy time to finish its development of nuclear weapons.

There has been growing speculation in the media that Israel would attempt an air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities if it becomes clear that international sanctions are not taking effect.

Without speculating on the military option, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told CBN News in an earlier interview that Israel would have to decide how to proceed by the end of the year if international sanctions fail.

Turkey drops joint air force drill due to IAF participation
  In another sign of continued tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem, the Turkish military canceled a planned joint exercise with the Israel Air Force scheduled for this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
An Israeli F-16 warplane...
An Israeli F-16 warplane takes off from an air force base in southern Israel. Photo: AP
SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region  |  World
Defense officials told the Post that Turkey informed Israel of the cancellation of the Anatolian Eagle exercise last week, which was to also include US, Italian and NATO forces, saying this was because the planes that Israel was going to send likely bombed Hamas targets during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip earlier this year. According to reports over the weekend in the Turkish press, Ankara decided last week to cancel international participation in the annual air force exercise, in which Israel has taken part in several times in the past. The reports claimed that the move was aimed specifically at preventing the Israel Air Force from participating, an idea confirmed by the IDF Spokesman's Office on Saturday night. "The exercise was postponed due to a Turkish decision to change the composition of the participants and not allow the Israel Air Force to participate, a decision we were informed of only several days ago," read a statement from the IDF Spokesman's Office. On Thursday, the Turkish military issued a statement saying, "Anatolian Eagle Exercise will be executed as planned between October 12-23, multinational participation is postponed." Israeli defense officials confirmed that the cancellation was connected to tension between Jerusalem and Ankara that was sparked by Operation Cast Lead. "Ties between the countries are still tense," explained one defense official. "The announcement about the cancellation was sudden and unexpected." Anatolian Eagle was first held in 2001, with Turkish, Israeli and American participation. The drill lasted almost two weeks and included Israeli F-16s, helicopters and refueling tankers. Israel last participated in the exercise in September 2008, but has not flown in Turkey since Operation Cast Lead, due to the increase in tensions. Israel's absence from the last Anatolian Eagle exercise in June drew headlines in Turkey. Israeli officials said at the time that the IAF would participate in the upcoming exercise scheduled for Octobe

Israel, US to simulate response to war Israel and the United States, amid growing tensions with Iran, will simulate interoperability between missile defense systems this week during the biennial Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise.
An IDF drill at Shizafon ...
An IDF drill at Shizafon . Photo: IDF
SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region  |  World
The exercise, set to simulate a response in the event of war between Israel, the Islamic republic, Syria and Hizbullah, will begin on Monday and end on Friday. More than 1,000 American troops from the European Command in Stuttgart, Germany have deployed in Israel for the exercise - mostly in the Negev - in addition to some 15 missile ships, some of them carrying the Aegis ballistic missile defense system. Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander of the US Navy's Sixth Fleet, will oversee the exercise alongside senior officers from EUCOM and the US Missile Defense Agency. On the Israeli side, the commander of the exercise will be the new head of the Israel Air Force's Air Defense Division, Brig.-Gen. Doron Gavish. On Friday, Iranian cleric Mojtaba Zolnour, who is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in the Revolutionary Guard, said that if a US or Israeli missile lands    
in Iran, Iranian missiles will hit Israel in retaliation. "Should a single American or Zionist missile land in our country, before the dust settles, Iranian missiles will blow up the heart of Israel," Zolnour was quoted as saying by the state IRNA news agency. In March, Iran's deputy army chief made similar remarks, warning that his country would eliminate Israel if it attacked the Islamic republic. "Should Israel take any action against Iran, we will eliminate Israel from the scene of the universe," Gen. Muhammad Reza Ashtiani said at the time in Teheran. Ashtiani claimed Israel was "very vulnerable" and dismissed allegations that Iran was worried about Israeli maneuvers. "Due to its special conditions, Israel is very vulnerable in the region," he said. "The aggressors will face a crushing response." The Juniper Cobra exercise will include the Arrow missile defense system as well as three American systems - the THAAD, Aegis and PAC-3 - that will all be deployed in Israel for the duration of the exercise. The purpose of the exercise, defense officials said, was to ensure that if there were a need, the Israeli Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system would be capable of working with American systems that might be deployed here to bolster Israeli defenses. Israel is in the midst of developing a multi-layered missile system that starts with the Arrow for long-range missiles; the David's Sling for medium-range missiles, that is currently under development and will be operational in a few years; and the Iron Dome to counter short-range rockets, which will be deployed along the Gaza border in the coming year. According to some media reports, Juniper Cobra will involve limited live fire from the Israeli and US defense systems. Israeli defense officials would not confirm the reports, but said that it was possible that, following the exercise, the US would decide to leave in Israel some of the systems, most likely the Patriot PAC-3 defense system. Expectations in Israel are that the US will deploy several Aegis ballistic missile ships - which are capable of intercepting ballistic missiles - in the Mediterranean and Red seas. Israel is already home to the advanced X-Band radar that the Bush administration gave as a farewell gift last October.
Iran moves to impose gasoline rationing ready for showdown with US

DEBKAfile Special Report

October 9, 2009, 11:28 AM (GMT+02:00)

2007 gasoline riots in Tehran

2007 gasoline riots in Tehran

The Islamic regime in Tehran plans to slash the supply of subsided gasoline to the public by 45 percent and ration individual purchases to 55 liters per month, down from the 100 allowed at present. This announcement Wednesday, Oct. 8, by Iranian oil minister Massoud Mirkazemi was Tehran's second step ahead of an expected showdown with the West over its nuclear program.

DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report: Accusing the US of involvement in the disappearance of an important Iranian nuclear scientist was the first.

To read this item click HERE

The government will have no difficulty in getting the measure through the tame Majlis (Iranian parliament).

Iran imports 40 percent of its gasoline needs because it is short of oil refineries. This shortage is sustained to boost the revenues of the Revolutionary Guards which owns a monopoly on gasoline imports. It has now become a strategic threat to the regime, curtailing fuel supplies for the military in the event of war and undermining Iran's ability to withstand severe sanctions.

Rationing may also provoke domestic unrest. Only 4.2 million liters of gasoline a day will be released, instead of the current 8 million. This will free up some 60,000 or so barrels a day for the Revolutionary Guards emergency stores. A much smaller cutback in 2007 caused serious riots in major cities; many gas stations and fuel depots were set on fire.

Earlier this week, Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki confronted Washington with a charge of US involvement in the disappearance of a nuclear scientist while on a pilgrimage to Mecca last May.

Christians Stand For a United Jerusalem

JERUSALEM--Thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world are in Jerusalem this week celebrating the Jewish Feast of Succoth at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration.

Some 4,000 Christians from more than 70 countries came for the weeklong ICEJ event to express their support and love for the Jewish people and the State of Israel and to raise their voices on behalf of a united city of Jerusalem.

This is the 30th Feast celebration for the organization. ICEJ spokesman David Parsons said they are using it to reaffirm the ICEJ's original mandate to stand as a global Christian community for a "united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty."

Standing through the Years 

The ICEJ held its first celebration of the Feast in September 1980, when Israelis felt a sense of isolation concerning their historic claim to Jerusalem, Parsons told reporters this week.

Thirteen nations had moved their embassies to Tel Aviv in protest against the Israeli government's passage of the "Jerusalem Law," which enshrined in law a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Parsons said.

In response, some 1,000 Christians from 40 nations opened the ICEJ as an act of comfort and solidarity with Israel, he said.

No country recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital even though Israel considers it to be so and its seat of government is in the city.

Parsons said that the ICEJ was re-committing itself and its international branches toward "diplomatic recognition of this city."

Pressure to Divide 

Israel is under increasing international pressure to divide the city of Jerusalem and give the eastern section, including the ancient holy places to the Palestinians as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called on Israel to halt all building in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and the West Bank, which the Bible calls Judea and Samaria.

But Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat received thunderous applause when he told participants at the Feast on Wednesday that freedom of religion in Jerusalem could only be maintained if the city remained united under Israeli sovereignty.

"Just last month over 200,000 Muslims came to pray on the Temple Mount," Barkat said in reference to the recent Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. "This week hundreds of thousands of Jews and Christians from around the world came over to Jerusalem to celebrate Succoth and the Feast of Tabernacles."

Barkat pledged to do everything in his power to ensure that "every person of faith around the world" would be "free to practice their beliefs openly" in Jerusalem.

"To ensure the freedom of religion of people of all faiths, we must keep Jerusalem united, undivided, sovereign capital of Israel," he said.

Largest Event 

The ICEJ's Feast is the largest annual tourist event in Israel and the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, injecting some $12 to $15 million into the local economy.

Many Israelis appreciate the support that they receive from the ICEJ and Christian pilgrims. Israeli Tourism Ministry official Rafi Ben Hur said earlier this week that whenever there is a crisis in tourism, it's the Christian Embassy that puts an end to it.

France arrests CERN researcher for suspected al Qaeda links

October 9, 2009, 5:59 PM (GMT+02:00)

The 32-year old Algerian-born nuclear engineer works for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). He was arrested with his brother at Viennes in southeastern France Thursday, Oct. 8 on suspicion of contacts with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the network's North African wing, and planning attacks in France.

Le Figaro newspaper reported from a judicial source he had suggested several French targets for terror attacks but there was no indication of a clearly established plot at this stage.

CERN said the researcher, who was not identified, worked for an outside institute and his work could not have been used for terrorism. Its particle collider built under the French-Swiss border outside Geneva aims to recreate the conditions of the "Big Bang."

Israeli Dolphin subs upgraded for missiles, larger fuel capacity

DEBKAfile Special Report

October 4, 2009, 11:21 AM (GMT+02:00)

Upgraded Dolphin submarine

Upgraded Dolphin submarine

Western naval sources report that Israel's German-made Dolphin submarines have been heavily modified: its torpedo tubes enlarged to accommodate missiles, new electronics installed and its fuel capacity expanded to keep the vessel at sea for 50 days without refueling. Eight years after receiving the first three Dolphin subs from Germany and two more last month, naval sources rate them the most modern non-nuclear subs in any world navy.

Israel is reported by foreign sources to have equipped the new Dolphin-class subs with Israel-made 1,500-km range cruise missiles carrying 200 kiloton nuclear warheads and 135-kilometer range US-made Harpoon missiles also fitted with nuclear warheads. These missiles, fired through the newly-enlarged 650mm-26-inch tubes, can reach Iranian coastal targets including its nuclear sites as well as naval, port and Revolutionary Guards facilities.

The Dolphins' expanded fuel tanks enable them to cover distances of up to 10,000 kilometers from their Mediterranean home port (instead of 8,000 kilometers heretofore) and spend more time - up to 50 days - off the Iranian coast.

DEBKAfile's military sources note: Their presence outside Israeli waters is a powerful deterrent to any surprise nuclear or conventional attack, endowing Israel with an instantaneous second-strike nuclear capability.

In June, an Israeli Dolphin passed through the Suez Canal for the first time, escorted by Egyptian Navy vessels, relaying a message to Tehran that Cairo would open the waterway to Israeli warships for a short cut to the Persian Gulf (instead of the long way round the Cape of Good Hope) should the controversy over Iran's nuclear program get out of hand.

On Sept 30, DEBKAfile reported the delivery of the last two Dolphin-class U212 subs Israel ordered from the German HDW shipyards at Kiel, raising its total submarine fleet to five.

For the full story click HERE.

Unlike the first three, the new U212 Dolphins have a fuel cell based on an air-independent propulsion system which enables them to stay under water for more than a week without surfacing. They are also very quiet and hard for Iranian sea hunters to detect.

Israeli company generates electricity from car traffic Israeli company Innowattech has developed a method for generating electricity from car traffic, and has successfully tested its Innowattech Piezoelectric Generator or IPEG on one of Israel's major highways. The IPEG works by implanting sensors several inches under the surface of high traffic thoroughfares. When cars and especially heavy vehicles like trucks pass over the sensors, they create stress and friction, which is converted to electricity. The company estimates that sensors and generators set up along a stretch of road half a mile long that sees at least 600 cars an hour could produce enough electricity to power 250 homes. Innowattech plans to continue testing its product along Israeli highways for the time being, and for now the resulting electricity will be used to power street lights and traffic lights in the area.
  Israeli Official: Obama's Nobel 'Very Strange'

The announcement on Friday of the decision to award the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama is "very, very strange," Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee hailed Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." The committee cited his overtures to the Muslim world and attached special importance to his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.

In reaction to the award, Rivlin, a senior member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, said he was concerned that granting Obama the award would encourage some to try to force a peace agreement on Israel.

'Very, Very Strange'

In a radio interview, Rivlin said that a forced peace would not be real or long-lasting, state-run Israel Radio reported. He said awarding the prize to Obama was "very, very strange."

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed the award and expressed the hope that Obama would be able to achieve peace in the Middle East and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

But in Gaza, Islamic Jihad leader Khaled Al-Batsh condemned the award, saying it only showed that such prizes are "political" and not based on "principles of credibility, values and morals," he told Reuters.

Ongoing Talks

The announcement of the award comes as U.S. envoy George Mitchell is in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that he did not foresee a peace agreement for years.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said on Thursday Obama's approval ratings in Israel had to improve before the Israeli-Arab peace process could move ahead.

Israelis Opinion on Obama?

Recent opinion polls showed that just four percent of Israelis believe Obama is pro-Israel.

"Those Israelis who are going to make peace with their neighbors are going to be asked to take immense risks, extraordinary risks with themselves, their families, their children," Oren said during a speech at the Washington Hudson Institute think tank on Thursday.

"In order to take those risks, they need to be able to trust the administration. It's crucial," he said, according to Friday's Jerusalem Post.