Archive for July, 2014

ISRAEL PRAISED BY HAMAS CO-FOUNDER’S SON

July 31, 2014

New York Post on July 30, 2014, reported that Israel is getting accolades for its war against Hamas from a very unlikely quarter — the son of the terror group’s co-founder.

“Israel in the Middle East is fighting on behalf of the free world,” declared Mosab Hassan Yousef, the outspoken son of Hamas leader Hassan Yousef.

The younger Yousef long ago abandoned his father’s twisted ideology — and even worked for a decade as a spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet.

Echoing the warnings of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yousef said Hamas can’t be trusted and doesn’t care about how many lives are lost in pursuit of its goal to build a radical Islamic state.

“Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians, or the lives of Israelis, or Americans; they don’t care about their own lives,” Yousef told CNN in a recent interview. “They consider dying for their ideology a way of worship.”

He wrote a book, “Son of Hamas,” about his unusual experience.

“Their goal is to conquer the globe and build an Islamic state on every inch of the globe,” he told the website The Right Scoop. “[Hamas] is willing to sacrifice as many Palestinian lives as it takes.”

“Hamas is not seeking co-existence and compromise. Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over. And by the way, the destruction of the State of Israel is not Hamas’s final destination,” he said. “Hamas’s final destination is building the Islamic caliphate, which means an Islamic state under rubble of every other civilization.”

Yousef, who won asylum to live in the US in 2010, said he had been brainwashed as a child to give up everything for the terrorists’ cause.

“In the mosques, Hamas taught us that without shedding innocent blood for the sake of the ideology, we wouldn’t be able to build an Islamic state, he said.

“As you see in my case, I had to lose everything just to say no to Hamas. And today when I look at the children of Gaza and I know what they’re fed, I know that they have no choice.”

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ISRAEL FLATTENS HOME OF TOP HAMAS LEADER, TAKES OUT POWER PLANT

July 30, 2014

The Washington Times on July 29, 2014, reported that airstrikes from Israel flattened the three-story home of a top political leader for Hamas, along with a key radio and television station and the only power station in Gaza early on July 29. Excerpts below:

Israel’s attack came on the heels of a Palestinian assault on Israel that saw between four and eight gunmen burst through a tunnel and kill five IDF soldiers, The New York Times reported.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a long conflict, Fox News reported. In the last 24 hours, Israel has hit more than 150 targets in Gaza, including the fuel tanks at the site’s only power plant, leaving more than 1.8 million citizens with rolling blackouts, NBC News reported.

US SAYS SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW RUSSIA HAS FIRED ROCKETS INTO UKRAINE

July 28, 2014

FoxNews on July 27, 2014, published an AP report on U.S. stepping up pressure on Moscow, releasing satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists has crossed the border. Excerpts below:

The images, which came from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, show blast marks where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The four-page memo is part of the Obama administration’s push to hold Russia accountable for its activities in neighboring Ukraine, and the release could help to persuade the United States’ European allies to apply harsher sanctions on Russia.

The timing of the memo also could be aimed at dissuading Russia from further military posturing. The Pentagon said just days ago that the movement of Russian heavy-caliber artillery systems across its border into Ukraine was “imminent.”

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone on July 27 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, urging him to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, said a State Department official.

The U.S. images claim to show multiple rocket launchers fired at Ukrainian forces from within Ukraine and from Russian soil. One image shows dozens of craters around a Ukrainian military unit and rockets that can travel more than seven miles.

The memo said one image provides evidence that Russian forces have “fired across the border at Ukrainian military forces and that Russian-backed separatists have used heavy artillery provided by Russia in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine.”

Another satellite image depicted in the memo shows “ground scarring at multiple rocket launch sites on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of Ukraine military units within Ukraine.”

“The wide areas of impact near the Ukrainian military units indicates fire from multiple rocket launchers,” the memo said.

Moreover, the memo included a satellite image that it called evidence of self-propelled artillery only found in Russian military units “on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of a Ukrainian military unit within Ukraine.”

More recently, U.S. intelligence officials have said they have what they call a solid circumstantial case that Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine are responsible for downing the Malaysia Airlines plane. Citing satellite imagery, intercepted conversations and social media postings, officials say a Russian-made SA-11 surface-to-air missile hit the plane on July 17.

ISIS TERRORISTS WREAK HAVOC ON IRAQ’S CULTURAL TREASURES

July 27, 2014

FoxNews on July 27, 2013, reported that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Sunni Muslim insurgent group who swept across northern and western Iraq earlier this year, menacing Baghdad in the process, has commenced the systematic destruction of the country’s cultural treasures. Excerpts below:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the group had destroyed a mosque in the northern Iraq city of Mosul that contained a shrine believed to be the tomb of Jonah — who is revered as a prophet by Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The paper reported that the militants had wired the periphery of the mosque with explosives and then detonated them.

Religious officials in Mosul, as well as at Iraq’s tourism ministry confirmed to The Journal that the shrine had been destroyed.

According to the hard-line Sunni ideology followed by ISIS and other extremist groups, veneration of shrines or tombs is a sin, as is the veneration of any prophet apart from Muhammad.

Officials told The Journal that ISIS militants had destroyed at least 24 shrines in Mosul alone. That number does not include Shiite places of worship or the Mosul Museum, which officials said was raided by militants this week.

Last week, thousands of Christians fled Mosul after ISIS issued an ultimatum requiring that Christians convert to Islam, pay a tax historically known as a “jizya,” or face execution.

TINY DRONES DEPLOY FOR US ALLIES

July 26, 2014

FoxNews on July 26, 2014, reported in an artivle by Allison Barrie, that Black Hornet, the next generation of tiny combat drones, has arrived. Excerpts below:

Norway’s Prox Dynamics PD-100 Black Hornet Block II Personal Reconnaissance System is a tiny drone helicopter that can fit into the palm of your hand. The company says it is the world’s smallest operational unmanned air system.

Black Hornet is about four inches long and one inch wide. And this little guy is astonishingly light. It only weighs just over half an ounce – that’s like the weight of three sheets of paper.

The entire system, including two Black Hornets, a base station that can fit in your back pocket, a controller and a screen, weighs under three pounds.

There’s no assembly required. As soon as you take it out of box, it is ready to go and can reach top speeds of about 10 miles per hour. Its tiny size and speed are a key advantage because it makes the drone far more difficult for an enemy to detect.

Despite its size, the Black Hornet can spend approximately 30 minutes in the air.

The operator can pilot it, but you can also plug in the GPS coordinates and the drone can fly itself using auto-pilot.

Given its tiny size and lightweight, the company says that Black Hornet does not pose a threat to other aircraft.

Black Hornet is a very sophisticated military tool with three cameras tucked into a very small unit – a pretty impressive engineering feat.

On missions, Black Hornet can travel about three quarters of a mile and provide real-time live motion video back to the operator. It can also take HD photos.

During deployments in Afghanistan for example, the British Army uses Black Hornet to investigate terrain and locate snipers.

While it has been mostly deployed by forces in rural and rugged terrains, it can also be useful for built up urban settings as well.

As you’d expect by its name, Black Hornet’s design was inspired by insects. The early models were built in a way that looked more like insects than mini helicopters.

The latest Black Hornet, the PD-100 Block II, looks almost identical to the first one, but also incorporates big advances inspired by the feedback from forces.

Very popular with warfighters, the British military has reportedly invested more than $30 million on Black Hornets to support operations.

Beyond deploying for combat, Black Hornet can be useful for law enforcement, providing urgent situational awareness and search and rescue.

Each Black Hornet has a hefty price tag of $30,000 to $50,000, making it a very expensive toy for civilian enthusiasts.

ISRAEL SURPRISED BY NUMBER, SOPHISTICATION OF GAZA TUNNELS

July 25, 2014

FoxNews on July 24, 2014, published an article by the Israel-based journalist Paul Alster on the focus of the Jewish state’s military being underground, on the warren of tunnels they say allow Hamas operatives to move freely in and out of the Palestinian territory committing acts of terror. Excerpts below:

Pictures released by the Israel Defense Forces show tunnels, some primitive and others sophisticated enough to include walls and ladders, running under the border from the Hamas-controlled district before they were intentionally destroyed. More than 60 access shafts leading to 28 tunnels have been uncovered since Israel’s ground operation…began on July 8.

“An IDF force uncovered a terror access shaft in Gaza in which were weapons, maps and IDF uniforms, all intended for the execution of terror attacks against Israel,” said an IDF statement. “In addition, an IDF force attacked several militants emerging from a tunnel opening in the southern Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the ground operation more than 60 access shafts leading to some 28 tunnels have been uncovered.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said shutting down the tunnels is critical to security in Israel.

“We’ve been busy with the tunnels for a long time — in the last year we have discovered four in our territory,” Ya’alon said. “This can be dealt with diplomatically or militarily — now it’s being done militarily with a lot of success.”

IDF officials initially expected that most of the tunnels would be destroyed within days, but once on the ground learned there were more than intelligence sources knew.

And on Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence source revealed that American satellite imagery had suggested that as many as 60 tunnels might have been built underneath Gaza.

The maze of tunnels and access shafts appears to weave its way throughout much of the Gaza Strip. Access points are reportedly found in homes, mosques, public buildings, and more. In the last week, two discoveries of missile caches have been found in UNRWA schools that most likely arrived via tunnel.

The tunnels vary in length, height and width, but some are well-constructed using concrete blocks. Some have electricity feeds and sewage channels, suggesting they are designed for terrorists to remain inside for long periods, possibly days at a time. The materials used to construct the tunnels appear most likely to have been diverted by Hamas from the building materials allowed into Gaza by Israel for civilian construction.

On July 21, an attempt by a force of terrorists dressed in mock Israeli Army uniforms was thwarted after they emerged into the night and were involved in a firefight with an IDF unit. Ten would-be attackers were killed, along with four Israeli soldiers.

Israelis close to the border are living in fear that at any moment a tunnel delivering well-trained and merciless terrorists could emerge within their community, or even within the very boundaries of their own house or garden. Should Hamas or Islamic Jihad succeed in emerging undiscovered from one of these tunnels, there could be carnage on a massive scale.

US EMBASSY REPORT OFFERS STRONG EVIDENCE RUSSIAN-BACKED FORCES BEHIND AIRPLANE STRIKE

July 21, 2014

FoxNews on July 20, 2014, reported that the Malaysian Airline flight that crashed in eastern Ukraine was likely brought down by a SA-11 surface-to-air missile from anti-central government forces in that part of the country, the U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Kiev said. Excerpts below:

Embassy officials said they based their analysis on several factors including the increasing flow in recent months of heavy weapons from across the Russian border to the so-called “separatist fighters.”

The embassy officials said that Russia last weekend sent a convoy of military equipment with up to 150 vehicles including tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and rocket launchers to the separatists They also said they have information indicating the separatists are being trained at a facility in southwest Russia on air-defense systems.

The pro-Russian separatist fighters, officials said, also have “demonstrated proficiency with surface-to-air missile systems and have downed more than a dozen aircraft over the past few months, including two large transport aircraft.”

The assessment is essentially identical to the one that Secretary of State John Kerry gave on July 20 while making his rounds on the morning talk shows.

Embassy officials also said they detected a surface-to-air missile launch from a separatist-controlled area in southeastern Ukraine at the same time contact was lost Thursday with flight MH17. They also think the missile was a SA-11.

The officials also said communications posted on YouTube and intercepted by the Ukrainian government indicate the separatists were as recently as July 16 in possession of a SA-11 system.

In addition, social media postings on July 17 purportedly show a SA-11 system being moved through the separatist-controlled towns of Torez and Snizhne, near the crash site.

“From this location, the SA-11 has the range and altitude capability to have shot down flight MH17,” said the embassy, adding that video posted on social media this weekend shows an SA-11 headed toward Russia on a transporter and that the system appeared to be missing at least one missile.

Officials made clear Ukraine also has such systems but were “confident” none was within range of the crash.

The release also contained other published assessments including separatists, among them self-proclaimed “Defense Minister” of the Donetsk People’s Republic Igor Strelkov, claiming on a call and on social media responsibility for shooting down a military transport plane.

ROBERT MCFARLANE: MALAYSIAN JET ATTACK MORE ‘BARBARISM’ BY RUSSIA

July 20, 2014

NewsMax on July 18, 2014, reported that former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane said on Newsmax TV that the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine that killed 298 people was “barbarism” and that “it ought to be condemned as such” by world leaders, especially President Barack Obama. Excerpts below:

“There is civilized behavior and there is barbarism, the latter is what we have seen here,” McFarlane, who served under President Ronald Reagan, told “The Steve Malzberg Show.”

“The events in Ukraine should’ve provoked the same kind of shrill and criticism of this savage barbarism that Russia could have prevented,” he added. “Clearly, it’s Russian weaponry, Russian training, Russian encouragement of the militants in eastern Ukraine.

“It is outrage without any possible justification, ought to provoke the sharp criticism and action on the part of Western Europe, NATO, United States to begin to restore what we had 20 years ago in the way of deterrence and the kind of strength that would have deterred and prevented this kind of outrage.”

At the White House on Friday, Obama called the attack an “outrage of unspeakable proportions” and called for an immediate cease-fire to allow for a “credible” unfettered investigation. The president warned that the incident showed the crisis in Ukraine won’t be localized or contained to the region.

McFarlane slammed the president for not immediately rallying world allies against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama first commented on the incident at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on increased federal spending for infrastructure projects.

“It would have been at least worthy if he had stayed in the White House and had begun to contact our allies in Europe to gain consensus immediately and statements from collective European Union, from NATO authorities,” McFarlane told Malzberg.

“In short, to demonstrate the solidarity that the West is not going to tolerate this kind of barbarism, the president should be on top of things like this and engage allies, show leadership from the front so that Russia simply doesn’t take this as a message that they can encourage this kind of violence with impunity.

“Leadership, that’s what’s called for here.”

McFarlane added: “This was not isolated, something that happened overseas, something of no consequence to the United States. The rule of law is important. It ought to be observed by Russia and every other sovereign nation.”

As Reagan’s national security adviser from 1983 to 1985, McFarlane championed the Strategic Defense Initiative that increased U.S. missile defenses to deter the Soviet Union. He told Malzberg that Putin’s recent actions prove that “he’s a danger and an increasing one” to the West and the United States in particular.

“If it’s clear [to Putin] that, as he carries out acts like this or allows them to happen, there’s no response. Going back to early months of this year when he moved into Crimea, there ought to have been a signal to us that we needed to rally the West.

“We’ve been taking a peace dividend for more than 20 years since the end of the Cold War, believing that somehow … ruthless people like Putin have suddenly gone away. Well, obviously, they haven’t.

“But the only way they’re deterred is when collective security organizations worthy of the name like NATO go back to offering a plausible deterrent — and that’s military as well as political unity and economic sanctions. They ought to be a lot tougher than they are right now.”

McFarlane also called for “a restoring of our forces deployed in Europe, an improvement of those of our NATO allies.

“In short, evidence that if this happens again, we will respond and do whatever it takes to roll back Soviet attempts to commit aggression against its former constituent countries of the Warsaw Pact.

“We ought to show them that this cannot continue,” McFarlane told Malzberg. “The United States is going to lead our NATO allies in restoring the strength needed to deter this kind of behavior.”

IDF INTENSIFIES GROUND OPERATION IN GAZA AS ROCKET FIRE CONTINUES

July 19, 2014

Jerusalem Post on July 19, 2014, reported with Reuters that sirens warning of rocket attacks sounded in southern Israeli communities mid-morning on July 19 as IDF pressed ahead with second day of land campaign in Gaza; 1 Israeli soldier was seriously injured overnight. Excerpts below:

Tanks were positioned in the morning near the border with Gaza, on the second day of the land campaign.

A rocket launched from Gaza landed in an open area near Kiryat Malachi on July 19 as a fresh volley of projectile were launched at Israel, Channel 2 reported. No injuries were reported.

Air raid sirens sounded in southern Israeli communities including Ashdod, Gedera and Kiryat Malachi.

Three IDF soldiers were wounded overnight during a confrontation with terrorists in the Gaza Strip…The wounded soldiers were evacuated to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment.

Channel 2’s live footage filmed from outside the Gaza Strip intermittently showed isolated billows of smoke streaming out of from apparent explosions in Gaza.

Since the start of the IDF ground incursion, the army has struck 260 terrorist targets, 140 of which have been hit since Friday morning.

The IDF said it killed over 40 terrorists and arrested 21 others since the ground incursion started. The military said that Palestinians fired mortars at troops in the southern Gaza Strip. In response, IAF aircraft struck at the source of the shooting.

WHO LAUNCHED MISSILE THAT SHOT DOWN MALAYSIA AIRLINES JET WITH 298 ABOARD?

July 18, 2014

FoxNews on July 18, 2014, reported that a U.S. intelligence official said the possibility it was fired from Russian territory could not be ruled out.

The Boeing 777 bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam was shot down at cruising altitude about 35 miles from the border, according to Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister.

Malaysia Airlines originally said there were 280 passengers and a crew of 15 aboard the flight, though it later upped the number of passengers to 283 to account for three infants.

The White House said President Obama spoke with Ukrainian President Poroshenko on the afternoon of July 17 to discuss the crash and “emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy.”

Meanwhile, a U.S. intelligence source told Fox News that the intelligence community was ruling out the possibility the missile was fired by the Ukraine military but could not rule out that it was fired from Russian territory.

The missile was believed to have been fired from a Russian Buk launcher, and the Malaysia Airlines plane appeared to be at least the third aircraft downed in the area since Monday, when a Ukrainian An-26 cargo plane was shot down. Late on July 16, a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet crashed, though it could not be confirmed if it was shot down.

Separatist leader Igor Girkin boasted on Facebook at about the same time the plane went down claiming to have downed a transport plane, but the post was quickly deleted after it became clear the plane was a passenger aircraft.

The self-titled “Self-defence forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic” boasted in a June 29 press release of having taken control of Buk missile defense systems. The Buk, or SA-11 missile launchers, have a range of up to 72,000 feet.

Separatist groups reportedly blocked Ukrainian officials from the scene, and later said the “black box,” or flight data recorder, had been sent to Moscow.

The White House issued a statement late on July 17, pressing for a “full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation,” adding that it was “vital” that no evidence be tampered with at the crash scene.

KT McFarland, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan and a Fox News national security analyst, said the attack was most likely the work of Russian separatists, not the Russian or Ukrainian armies.

“I think it’s far more likely it was rebel forces in eastern Ukraine trying to get the Russian back involved,” McFarland said.

A Reuters correspondent near the scene reported seeing burning wreckage and bodies strewn across a nine-mile debris field. A Ukrainian Emergency official told the news agency body parts and at least 100 bodies were seen in the area.

The Donetsk region government said Thursday’s plane crashed near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists. The area has been a flashpoint to the larger dispute between Ukraine and ethnic Russian separatists. Fighting has intensified in recent months in the region.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said whether it was intentional or accidental it is an “international incident” when a passenger jet is shot down. McCaul said he believed only a military grade weapon could have downed the plane.