Sunday, July 30, 2006


Time is up

Startfor issued a report last night, that if cease fire starts today, Hezbollah practically won.

Channel 10 reported that Condoleezza Rice said that the time is up. She was called back to Washington, which means that she might have difference of opinion with George Bush. Unofficial reports from the US say that the White House is very angry. All of their diplomatic efforts have been underminded. This all comes after the terrible images of 55 bodies from Kfar Kanna, following the collapse of their resident building. Olmert ofcourse appologized after this incident.

Time will tell what happened there, but nothing that will be said from this point forward (including all of the following text) will not change the tragedy.

Israeli Air Force did not give much details, and said that more time is needed to analyze the pictures. According to their first analysis the house that collapsed was hit 8 hours before it collapsed.

IAF implied more things (although it was not said explicitly in the briefing) :
1) IAF identified this house as a Hezbollah headquarters, in charge of sending rockets into Israel
2) IAF did not know there were citizens in this house.
3) Hezbollah kept weapons in this house, and it may caused the secondary explosion (8 hours after the attack ?)
4) Why people did not leave the house if there was fire ? Why there were no reports on the collapse right after the IAF air attack ?
5) It took a long while to match the ground photos from the arab media with the photos from the airplanes.

Saturday, July 29, 2006



  • Stratfor was claiming for quite a while that Israel refrains from endangering Bashar El Asad's regime in Syria, since there is no better alternative. Haaretz newspaper confirmed this theory claiming that Israeli foreign ministry disagrees with Bush vision of Democracy in Syria, since the Shia majority in Syria will vote for a radical regime.

  • Joshua Landis writes why Assad (thinks he may) benefit from the Israeli-Lebanese conflict


    Israel economy still holding

    The Bank of Israel raises the interest rate for August 2006 by 0.25% to 5.5%
    The main considerations behind the decision are:
    1. Inflation in the first half of 2006 was close to the upper limit of the target price-stability range, while viewed over the previous twelve months inflation was above the upper limit of the range. The main forces affecting inflation in the first half of the year––in particular the rise in energy prices and in prices of other imports, and the contraction of the output gap––continue to exert inflationary pressures. These forces were partly offset in the second quarter of 2006 by the strengthening of the sheqel.
    2. In the light of the changed security situation, Israel’s economic risk assessment increased. The rise in risk serves to reduce capital inflows and acts against the forces tending to strengthen the sheqel. This rise in risk, including inflation risk, demands a measure of monetary tightening, in order to maintain price stability and to bolster financial stability.

    Guy Rolnik from Haaretz adds: Israel's real deterrent force is in its social durability against the military threats: The backup that the military receives from the citizens and the ability of the state to keep going forward economically even when at war.

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    Israel's strategy in and out of Lebanon

    Many voices in Israel call for a bigger ground operation in Lebanon. This move has been delayed by the Israeli government given the last days of fighting with Hezbollah. Hezbolla's anti-tank capabilities makes a long stay very dangerous. Since no other army "volunteers" to replace the Israeli army ; Israel will enter Lebanon only after it makes sure it has a way out.

    Haaretz reported that Italy, Germany, Ireland, France and Turkey have said they are considering joining a United Nations run multinational force. On the other hand, Israel US and Portugal are reported to support a European Union led international force. In diplomatic language it sounds like this:

    Rice said the terms and conditions of a such a cease-fire would involve "a multinational force under UN supervision" that would have a mandate to enforce a peace agreement.

    This may look like a subtle matter, but in fact it is substantial. For years, the UN has kept forces in Lebanon, which did nothing more than sun bathing. Israel's criticism was at its peak in 2000 when the UN has denied a video tape that records the kidnapping of 3 of its soldiers by Hezbollah. The Hezbollah, dressed up as UN soldiers kidnapped 3 Israeli soldiers outside a UNIFIL outpost. The vehicle was caught on a UN camera, but Israel was not given a notice about that - something that could have saved the soldiers lives. Eventually Israel released thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the three soldiers' bodies, and a suspected Israeli drug dealer (that knew too many military secrets). This deal has increased Nassrala's political power, and marked the end of a UN led force in Lebanon.

    Ironically, once a peace-keeping force will be agreed upon, Israel will restart the fighting by mobilizing three divisions into southern Lebanon and force Hezbollah out. On the other hand, this force could be used just as a warning for Hezbollah (not to resist the international force deployment in southern Lebanon).

    Israel has also repeated its demand that the Hezbollah will not be re-armed by Syria. This requires two things. First, an agreement with Syria, and second for the international force to be deployed also on the Syrian-Lebanese border. This probably explains why the EU is reluctant to send it soldiers and get involved in this mess. Israel is practically asking the EU to put their money where their mouth is.

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    Friday, July 28, 2006



    In the martial arts, Zanshin means having no break in our activity, because there is no time to take back a stride or block and fix it.
    The government has allowed the Israeli Defence Force to recruit more reserve soldiers (3 divisions, which is about 3 to 4 times the ammount of soldiers engaged today in Lebanon). Channel 10 reports it will take about a week to get them ready for battle. The government, however, did not allow to make any use of this force without its approval.

    Under the assumption that about 10 days from now the diplomatic pressure will increase and a cease fire will be declared - the Israeli move can be described as Zanshin.

    The fighting will stop, but the IDF will be as ready as it was in the first day to continue the battle. It will remain fresh, alert, aware and will respond in no-time if required.

    Thursday, July 27, 2006


    Fox News: Last American shuttle out of Beirut

    Fox news reported that the American evacuation has been completed. This may be the sign for Israel to start the recruiting more reserves and start the massive invasion into southern Lebanon.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006


    Olmert is soft with Bint Jbel

    Yesterday channel 10 reported that the Israeli ground forces has encircled the village except the road heading north (farther away from Israel) , to allow the civilians a way out. One of the soldiers that participated in the early fights in Bint Jbel yesterday said that it is a ghost town and all of the civilians have already left.

    Today, channel 10 reported that the commander of the ground forces asked the air force commander to heavily bomb Bint Jbel before re-entering the village. The air force commander refused and the ground force that re-entered the village stepped into a Hezbollah trap. 8 soldiers were killed, 3 severely injured.

    Update 28-June-2006: It seems that the Israeli soldiers entered the city and engaged the terrorists hiding in a certain house. This gave the signal to terrorists in houses around the soldiers to start firing too.

    Images on TV show much more artillery shells falling on Bint-Jbel. This still means that it is done only on specific houses and not indiscriminately (to "flatten" the city) as some voices suggests.


    Russian weapons in the hands of Hezbollah

    Israeli Channel 10 news reported that Hezbollah are using Kornet anti-tank missiles and that it can even damage a Merkava 4 tank. Kornet missiles are made in Russia and sold to Syria which gives them to Hezbollah.

    The cold war perhaps is over but the Russians are still kicking...


    Preventing a Humanetarian Crisis in Lebanon (2)

    Update on the previous post :

    Israeli channel 1 reported that ships has started unloading humanetarian aid in Beirut seaport. Some of it will stay in Beirut and the rest will be moved to southern Lebanon.


    Annan accuses Israel over attack on UN post

    The UN secretary general Kofi Annan says an Israeli attack on a UN observation post was "apparently deliberate". Four unarmed military observers were killed in the air strike in southern Lebanon.

    Israeli radio explains the United Nations secretary anger:

    1) Anan implied that this was done on purpose to undermine the efforts to deploy international forces. Israel denies that this attack was on purpose. Analysts explain that Anan is the most experienced polititians in the UN, and that he did not imply what he actually did imply. The explanation is that Anan was extremely extremely extremely angry.

    2) The UN observers were injured but not killed. Israel did not stop the fire on that region, which did not allow the UN to rescue the observers. Some of the observers eventually died from their wounds.

    3) Anan tried to reach Olmert on the phone ASAP but Olmert was not available.

    Israeli Forign Ministry Zippi Llivni said (hearing transcript, not word-by-word) :
    The accusation it is unjustified. No Israeli soldier will hurt a UN soldier on purpose. It does not fit the Israeli view of this conflict. The IDF is checking the incident and will report the investigation results. I've already sent our apologies to the UN secretary, Austria FM, Canadian FM. And tomorrow will meet with Finnish FM and Chinese FM.

    Update 27-July-2006: New evidence that Hezbollah used the UNTSO post as human shields. Click the link and then the small play button for the interview with retired Canadian major general Lewis Mackenzie.


    Sattelite image of Hezbollah district in southern Beirut


    DigitalGlobe released a picture of a southern Beirut after the Israeli bombings. According to Stratfor this picture shows the Bir al Abid district of downtown Beirut, Lebanon, a known Hezbollah stronghold. The second picture was taken by Google Earth (before the bombing). Notice that buildings from neighbour districts remained unharmed.

    Update 29-july-2006: Those of you that installed Google Earth can have both pictures overlayed one on top of the other.

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    Tuesday, July 25, 2006


    Middle East war cycle

    1) An Islamic organization (Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, etc...) provokes Israel by consistently sending rockets, suicide bombers or abducting soldiers or abducting citizens.

    2) Israelis perceives Israel as the only place on earth were they can feel safe. Each time this strategic assumption is cracked the Israeli public opinion shifts. The government gets complete political backing to attack the enemy with a painfully strike (Zbang), so it will never happen again. The strength of the retaliation is proportional to the strategic threat on Israel.

    3) The Islamic organization expects the attack and blends with civilians. The Israeli retaliation kill or capture the ones responsible. Innocent civilians that were in the wrong place at the wrong time are severly hurt.

    4) Uncensored images of the innocent muslim (bodies) are circulated in the Arab media. The political leaders behind the Islamic organization leverage the terrible images to undermine Arab regimes that are not part of the Islamic revolution.

    5) Eventually, the leaders of all Arab nations call Israel to stop the violence. If that doesn't help they call the US to call Israel to stop.

    6) Israel retreats and enjoys a quite period of a year or so.

    7) After that period ends, it starts all over again.

    Your suggestions on how to permanently stop the violence are welcome.


    Changing the status quo in southern lebanon

    According to channel 10 news analyst, in order to change the status quo in southern Lebanon, one of the following goals should be achieved:

    1) Israel will drive the Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon. Otherwise foreign countries will not send their soldiers, and the Lebanese army will not deploy in southern lebanon.

    2) The international community will use its influence on Lebanon and Syria to disarm the Hezbollah or force it to retreat from southern Lebanon.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006


    Keep the eyes on the ball !

    Three missiles hit a transmission station at Fatqa in the Keserwan mountains.Another airstrike crippled a transmission tower at Terbol in northern Lebanon,where relay stations for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp (LBC), Future TV and Hezbollah's al-Manar are located.

    Nasrala is a polititian. Like any politian he wants to have more control , more power. Unlike other polititians he holds a private army and a private TV station.

    the only thing that I know of that can stop a polititian is his political oponents. Israel needs to keep the eye on the ball - weakening Nasrala - without weakening his political oponents. Israeli channel 1 news hinted yesturday that the attack on LBC television tower was a mistake. They added that LBC is known as political rivals of the Hezbollah.

    Arab sources claim that the Israeli strike was meant to stop the broadcasting of horible images to the arab world. If this is realy the cause, then Israel failed since the LBC relay tower is used by Lebanonees only. The rest of the arab world receive the video via satelite communication (which was not harmed).

    My guess is that the LBC tower was most likely hit because it was too close to Nasrala's TV tower (al-Manar):

    Saturday, July 22, 2006



    Lucy Widad wrote:

    Lebanon famous for its delicious food, beautiful women (and men), great Arabic music, fashion, educated public, and becoming one of the top tourist destination in the Middle East may have started to become to powerful in the sense that they were getting the West to notice them for all the things that Arab Haters didn't want. A modern arabic public.

    I wondered how much money Lebanon (and Israel) are actually loosing from the war in the summer Tourist period. Here is what Israel's Tourist Minister (Buzi Herzog) said:
    The facts speak for themselves - every 100,000 tourists are worth 200 million dollars income and creation of 4,000 new jobs, especially in the periphery.

    In 2005 the total (Israeli) income from tourism was 4.7 billion dollars! And we are predicting that by the end of 2006 more than 2.5 million tourists from abroad will visit Israel.
    Israel just recently opened a new website for incoming tourists. Obviously, no one planned to engage Hezbollah in 2006.


    War Propaganda

    I reminded today of the US invasion to Iraq, so I opened the American IPP report on Saddam , and searched for the word "propaganda". Suprizingly it has some striking similarity to the "propaganda" of the Hezbollah in Lebanon:

    As the war progressed, Saddam continued to receive optimistic reports from the civil and military bureaucracy... These reports emphasized the Fedayeen Sadda attacks on Coalition forces, at least early in the fighting, the "failure" of the Coalition troops to enter most major cities. When gloomy reports did finally get to Saddam and Qusay they discarded them or considered the tidings to be exaggerated... The American were amused by the seemingly obvious fabrications of the (Iraqi) Information Minister, wondering who could possibly believe such declarations. The evidence is now clear: Saddam and those around him believed virtually every word issued by their own propaganda machine.

    After Hezbollah looses most of its military power, it is very likely that the Israeli will issue a similar report on Nasrala.


    Israel - The gate to the far east

    Israel is increasing its oil import from Azerbaijan

    So ?

    Look at the map and ask yourself, why is the route from Azerbayjan to India is so long? First the oil flows in the PTC pipeline from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey. From there in large tankers oil can be shipped to Israeli's oil port in Ashkelon. From Ashkelon the oil flows in pipes until it reaches the southern city of Eilat. There, again by tankers to India and China that need oil so badly for their growing economy.

    Stratfor explains that Russia uses its oil export for political negotiations. And the US has succeeded in creating reliable oil route that bypasses Rusia.

    US alies also benefit from the new arrangement. Azerbaijan and Georgia can really use the money from taxing the oil pipeline, and Israel (at last) benefits from its strategic location.


    Military Goal: Preventing a Humanetarian Crisis in Lebanon

    My country is at war. My parent's house is bombarded daily, and it's not a good time to talk about a humanitarian crisis in Lebanon. So I won't.

    Instead let's talk about Israel's Defence Force strategy. Israel's strategy is based on Air raids, and commando units to soften the enemy resistance. As Stratfor points out, this tactic was copied right out of American text books. But if there is something that the US has, and Israel lacks, is the ability to withstand growing international pressure.

    Until now, Israel's time window seems unlimited, due to sympathetic public opinion in the US. George W. Bush is not at his peak, but is strong enough to silence the French and UN voices calling for an early cease fire. However, if there is something that the US public is vulnerable to is humanitarian crisis.

    Therefore, strictly from a military point of view, Israel prime interest is to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Lebanon.

    Unitl today, the tactics was to impose a complete blockade on Lebanon. No seaports, no airports and no trucks coming in from Syria. There are several reasons for this :
    Itai(1): Having learned from the Palestinians, the Syrian probably mix-up medicine, food and weapons on the same truck or ambulance.
    Itai(2): True. Instead, let the UN send fresh water, medicine and supplies through Cyprus on ships. Syria cannot load warheads in Cyprus.

    Itai(1): Most of the supply will probably reach Hezbollah fighters anyway. This is what always happens in wars.
    Itai(2): Right again. Given the time constants of this battle (weeks) it is safe to assume that Hezbollah's bunkers are full with food, water and medicine anyway. The tradeoff balance is in favor of preventing a humanitarian crisis in Lebanon.

    Itai(1): Without collective punishment, and a humanitarian crisis, there will be less pressure on the Lebanese government to give in.
    I voted for Amir Peretz, which is now Israel's Minister of Defense. He is known for his compassion and understanding of basic human needs, and I pray he will take preventive measures before it’s too late (strictly from a military point of view ofcourse)

    Friday, July 21, 2006


    Sea Ports

    The country's oldest seaport is Haifa Port, built by the British in the early 1930s. Ashdod Port, further south on the Mediterranean coast, was opened in November 1965, replacing cargo operations in Tel Aviv. Eilat Port is Israel's only non-Mediterranean harbor (not shown in the
    Since Israel is surrounded by Arab countries the seaports handle 98% of the country's import and export cargoes. In normal days, one quarter of the cargoes are handled by Haifa port. However, it has been closed since Hezbollah's rocket attack. All ships have been requested to dock outside the port or sail to Ashdod Port.

    In addition the cargoes insurance price have risen from 0.025% to 0.5% (20 times higher!). The government is going to cover these expenses.

    Israel's reaction to Hezbollah attacks (I would dare say) is moderate, given the fact that it practically shut down 25% of Israel's import/export capability.

    By clicking the map you will see that the range from Lebanon to Haifa equals the range from Gaza strip to Ashdod (which handles three quarters of the cargoes) . If the Palestinians acquired Iranian weapons and target Ashdod port from Gaza – hell will break loose.

    A more optimistic scenario is that someday in the future Gaza would have their own port and a railway connecting them to Jordan and Israel. This would be one of their main income source. Many cities around the world such as New York, London and Hong Kong became large trade center due to their port facilites and central location.


    The war in Lebanon could have been avoided

    Uri Avneri is a known left wing activist, that just by mentioning his name I risk loosing 99% of Israeli readers – so please hang on with me, it does not get any worse. Anyway, Uri wrote in response to Giora Eiland's plan to solve the Palestinian problem in the Gaza Strip:
    Years ago Boutrus Boutrus-Ghali, then the acting foreign minister of Egypt, told me with a thin ironic smile: "You Israelis have the best experts on Arab affairs in the world. They have read all the books, all the articles. They know everything -and understand nothing, because they have never lived one single day in an Arab country." General Eiland seems to be no exception.

    Giora Eiland was the head of Israel's National Security Council until he resigned from unknown reasons. Today, Amir Oren (Haaretz newspaper) published an article claiming that the war with Lebanon could have been avoided. Giora's plan for peace with Lebanon was delayed by Sharon twice and by Olmert once (about the time Giora resigned). Giora's resignation was effectively delayed until now, and that is why the plan was publish in the daily newspapers only today.

    Thinking back on the past year, I have an urge to explain why Sharon delayed the Lebanon "problem", but I need more time to think it over...



    A few minutes ago Haifa was hit by rockets sent from Lebanon territory. The people of Haifa obey the requests of the mayor and the Israeli army to stay indoors, which reduces the number of casualties to a minimum (1 badly injured and 20 lightly injured today). When the alarm sounds the residents have 60 seconds to take shelter. Newer homes that were built in the past 15 years include a windowless concrete wall shelter. Others are requested to stay in the neighborhood shelter or in a windowless room.

    Nasrala begs Israel to strike as soon as possible, when the Hezbollah army is still capable of guerilla tactics. However, as long as the number of casualties is low, Olmert can proceed as planned. Currently, Israel is taking the time to soften Hezbollah with air bombings, and send elite troops into Lebanon to prevent rocket launches into Israel. Risking our soldier's life is done since Israel refrains from using inaccurate weapons (such as artillery) on southern Lebanon villages. Olmert has already requested all the residents of southern Lebanon to evacuate, but Hezbollah needs them as human shields from Israeli artillery. When the time is right, Olmert may decide to mobilize the army reserves (tanks) to destroy Hezbollah bunkers and force a Hezbollah retreat to northern Lebanon.

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