U.S., Israel to hold major missile defense exercise

U.S., Israel to hold major missile defense exercise

Reuters – he United States and Israel will hold a major missile defense exercise in Israel this month, sending a message of close cooperation as both countries weigh their options over Iran’s nuclear program. The three-week exercise, the largest the allies have ever held, will simulate a variety of long and short-range missile attacks that Israel could face during a regional conflict, said the commanders in charge. Asked whether it sent a message to Iran, which has warned of an all-out war should Israel try to strike its nuclear facilities, Israeli Brigadier General Nitzan Nuriel said: “Anybody can get any type of message from this exercise.” Read Article

Stifled West Bank economy drains Palestinians’ hopes

BBC – Passers-by linger in front of the window displays on a main shopping street in central Hebron but seem reluctant to enter the stores. In the old market, vendors call out their wares but are largely ignored. The city is the largest in the West Bank and a major commercial and industrial hub, accounting for about one third of the West Bank’s GDP. Recently it was also the scene of some of the worst violence during Palestinian economic protests. Read Article

Gaza Toll Hits 5 As Israel Targets Militants

AFP – Two Gazans died in an Israeli strike on Sunday, raising to five the total number killed as Israel pressed a series of raids targeting militants, among them a top Salafist leader. Palestinian witnesses said the latest Israeli strike targeted a motorcycle near Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, killing two militants in their early 20s. The Israeli army confirmed the strike, saying it had targeted “a terrorist rocket squad.” Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry, told AFP the strike killed Ezzedine Abu Nasira, 23, and Ahmad Fatayer, 22, and left another two people in critical condition. An Israeli army spokeswoman said they were targeted after firing a rocket into Israel that landed in the Eshkol regional council flanking the southern sector of the Gaza border, without causing injury. It was the third deadly Israeli raid within 24 hours and came just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “act aggressively” against anyone threatening to attack Israelis. Read Article

Israeli parliament dissolves for early election

AP – Israeli leaders launched harsh attacks on one another during a long parliamentary debate that preceded the vote to dissolve parliament that passed late unanimously late Monday night, setting the parameters for what is likely to follow in the campaign. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted of his achievements, while the opposition heckled and insulted him mercilessly. Read article

Israel plans ‘huge earthquake drill’ next week that assumes mass casualties of 7,000 dead, 70,000 wounded

Arutz Sheva – Israel is planning a huge emergency drill for next week amid speculation and fears that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will order a unilateral strike on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities. The drill tests the country’s ability to cope with an earthquake, and assumes hypothetical mass casualties of 7,000 dead, 70,000 wounded and 170,000 without a home. The drill will also include a scenario simulating a toxic chemical leak at the northern coastal port in Haifa. This is the first time a Home Front drill has dealt with a natural disaster scenario as opposed to a war scenario. Read Article

Palestinians killed in Israeli air strike

Al-Jazeera – An Israeli air strike has killed one Palestinian and wounded two others, including a child, in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said. Sheikh Hisham al-Saedini, 43, also known as Abu al-Waleed al-Maqdisi, one of the founding members of Salafist group the Mujahedeen Shura Council, was killed in a strike late on Saturday on the north Gaza town of Jabaliya, Palestinian security sources said. Fellow Salafist activist Fayek Abu Jazar, 42, died with him as they rode a motorbike. Two other people, one of them a 12-year-old boy, were wounded. Read Article

Massive US-Israel air drill set for this month

Jerusalem Post – The US and Israel will commence the largest-ever joint air defense drill of its kind in Israel on October 21, an army source said on Tuesday. The exercise, named Austere Challenge 12, was originally scheduled for last spring but was postponed due to regional tensions with Iran. On October 14, large numbers of American soldiers are expected to begin arriving in Israel, where they will set up aerial defense positions on Israeli territory and on US Navy vessels off the Israeli coastline. The three-week drill will simulate various missile defense scenarios, and is expected to end with a live-fire interception of a decoy incoming Patriot missile. Read Article

US, Israel plan joint strikes on Iran

SOTT – The US and Israel are considering a joint “surgical strike” against Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to an article by David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy magazine cited in the Israeli media. It is yet another indication that detailed planning for another criminal war of aggression is underway. Rothkopf, who served under the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, cited sources “close to the discussions” now taking place between Washington and Tel Aviv. Read Article

Israel launches strikes on Gaza after rocket fire

BBC – The Israeli military has carried out strikes on the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants fired about 50 mortar rounds and rockets into Israel. Several children were among those injured when Israeli forces shelled areas east of Khan Younis. Earlier, rockets launched from Gaza landed in Israel’s Eshkol region and near Kerem Shalom. No-one was hurt. The military wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said the attack was a response to an Israeli air strike on Sunday. Read Article

Israeli PM Netanyahu calls early election

Aljazeera – “I have decided that it is in Israel’s better interest to go to elections now and as quickly as possible,” he said. “For Israel, it is preferable to have as short a campaign as possible, one of three months over one that would last in practice an entire year and damage Israel’s economy.” With no viable alternative on the horizon, Netanyahu is expected to easily be re-elected as prime minister: He is riding a wave of popularity and his opposition is fragmented and leaderless. Read article

55% of Americans say Israeli Iran strike bad for US

Jerusalewm Post – More than half of Americans think an Israeli attack on Iran would leave the US in a worse strategic position, according to a new poll. Fifty-five percent believe such an attack would put America in a poorer position and 32% believe it would be about the same, with only 8% believing it would be better, according to a poll by Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. Additionally, 70% expect that in the case of an Israeli strike Iran would attack US bases (23% think they wouldn’t) and 86% expect the price of oil would “drastically increase” (9% say that’s unlikely). Read Article

Israel launches strikes on Gaza after rocket fire

BBC – The Israeli military has carried out strikes on the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants fired about 50 mortar rounds and rockets into Israel. Several children were among those injured when Israeli forces shelled areas east of Khan Younis. Earlier, rockets launched from Gaza landed in Israel’s Eshkol region and near Kerem Shalom. No-one was hurt. The military wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said the attack was a response to an Israeli air strike on Sunday. Read Article

Azerbaijan eyes aiding Israel against Iran

Reuters – Israel’s “go-it-alone” option to attack Iran’s nuclear sites has set the Middle East on edge and unsettled its main ally at the height of a U.S. presidential election campaign. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exudes impatience, saying Tehran is barely a year from a “red line” for atomic capacity. Many fellow Israelis, however, fear a unilateral strike, lacking U.S. forces, would fail against such a large and distant enemy. But what if, even without Washington, Israel were not alone? Read Article

US Ambassador to Israel: U.S. Made “Necessary Preparations” for Iran Attack

Times Of Israel – Jerusalem and Washington are in sync regarding the Iranian nuclear program, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told The Times of Israel on Thursday afternoon, in a first reaction to the speech in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his call for clear red lines for Iran. Shapiro also said the US had made “the necessary preparations” for a resort to force against Iran if that were to prove necessary. “We’re totally focused on the same goal, which is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We’re in the closest possible consultations at the highest levels of our government,” Shapiro said in the brief interview, at the United Nations, minutes after Netanyahu concluded his address. “We’re absolutely focused on achieving that goal together. And we’ve been very well coordinated until now and I think we will remain very well coordinated.” Read Article

Olmert avoids jail over fraud sentencing

Aljazeera – An Israeli court has spared Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, a prison term over a conviction for breach of trust, potentially paving his way for a political comeback. Olmert was sentenced on Monday after being found guilty in July of of illegally granting favours to a businessman while in a former cabinet post, he was acquitted at the time of more serious bribery charges. Read article

Mossad’s shadow women ready to die for Israel

RT – The highly-trained female agents from Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, leave their male compatriots in the dust. Five agents spoke about their “movie-style” lives for the first time, revealing a world dominated by deadly efficient femmes fatales. Israeli publication Lady Globes published an interview with the women, delving into a shadowy world where female wiles can be a significant advantage. “A man who wants to gain access to a forbidden area has less chance of being allowed in. A smiling woman has a bigger chance of success,” Yael, a Mossad agent, tells Lady Globes. Read article

Israeli airstrike killed 2 border troops

AP – Gaza’s Hamas rulers say an Israeli airstrike on a vehicle in the southern Gaza Strip has killed two security personnel. Israel claimed Thursday that it had targeted two militants – one suspected of planning an attack on Israeli civilians and another accused of selling weapons. The conflicting accounts could not immediately be reconciled. Gaza’s Interior Ministry later said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press that the two killed were members of its border security unit operating along the Gaza-Egypt boundary, which abounds in smuggling tunnels. The ministry says a third man wounded in the late Wednesday airstrike belongs to the same unit. Read Article

Israeli PM makes case on Iran to US voters

AP – sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case on Iran directly to U.S. voters Sunday, telling the American public in televised interviews that the White House must be willing to draw a “red line” on Tehran’s nuclear program, comparing Tehran’s nuclear program to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and reminding Americans of the devastating repercussions of failed intelligence. His remarks were an impassioned election-season plea from a world leader who insists he doesn’t want to insert himself into U.S. politics and hasn’t endorsed either candidate. But visibly frustrated by U.S. policy under President Barack Obama, the hawkish Israeli leader took advantage of the week’s focus on unrest across the Muslim world and America’s time-honored tradition of the Sunday television talk shows to appeal to Americans headed to the polls in less than two months. Read article

Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike

Telegraph – Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war. Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea. Read Article

MI6 chief made secret trip to meet Israeli PM to head off plans to bomb Iran’s nuclear programme

Mail Online – The head of MI6 has made an extraordinary secret visit to Israel to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to give the go-ahead to plans to bomb Iran, the Daily Mail can reveal. In an indication that the Government believes a strike on Tehran’s nuclear programme could be imminent, Sir John Sawers is understood to have made a personal mission to deliver a clear message that Britain is opposed to action now. It is unusual for the head of MI6, who is known in Whitehall as ‘C’, to make a foreign visit as an emissary of the Government, and still more so for details to leak. Read Article