22 January 2019

Institute for National Security Studies: Israel could face three-front war in 2019

Tel Aviv-Yafo, Photo by Naomi Litvin ©
Article by Itamar Eicher, Diplomatic correspondent for Yedioth Ahronot Newspaper  from Ynet News

"Institute for National Security Studies says the volatile situation along the northern border as well as in the Gaza Strip could lead Israel to war against Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinians at the same time. 

Israel could face military conflicts on three different fronts—Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip—at the same time in 2019, according to an annual assessment of security challenges done by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a national security think-tank.  
"The main three fronts are: Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and they are very volatile. Despite the continued mutual deterrence between the sides, there is a potential for a military escalation, which could eventually lead to an all-out three-front war … Israel is ought to be prepared for this scenario,” said the assessment, which was submitted to President Reuven Rivlin last week."

Prime Minister Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi (Photo: Reuters)
Prime Minister Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi (Photo: Reuters)

"The First Northern War

One scenario for a three-front war involves the IDF facing all military forces along Israel’s northern border: Iran, Hezbollah, and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The possible “northern border war” is the gravest threat Israel faces in the coming year, according to the INSS. 

Israel has repeatedly taken vigorous military action against the Iranian arms depots in Syria. The Islamic Republic, however, has declared it doesn’t intend to leave the war-battered country in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, Israel’s freedom of operations in Syria has diminished since Russia began to arm the Syrian regime after Assad’s forces all but reclaimed all the territory occupied by the Islamic State and various rebel groups.

Due to Assad's successes in Syria, Iran has decided to divert its attention to Iraq and Lebanon. Although Iranian support for its proxy Hezbollah has never ceased, recently more effort has been directed into assisting the terror group in converting its arsenal of unguided projectiles into precision-guided missiles, improving Hezbollah's air defense capability and supplying the Shi’ite organization with long-range anti-ship missiles. Israel's ability to thwart Iranian military projects in Lebanon is much more limited than in Syria, where a volatile political and security situation allowed the Israeli military to operate in a consequence-free environment.

The INSS researchers believe that to continue foiling Iran's efforts to establish long-term military presence in Syria, as well as the Islamic Republic's attempts to further enrich Hezbollah’s weapons arsenal, Israel would have to formulate a new course of action. The methods used by the IDF until now, which involve mostly aerial attacks on arms depots, no longer justify the risk of a possible military flare-up.

"Iran's military projects in Lebanon and Iraq, as well as Russia's restrictions on Israeli activity in Syria, will necessitate either an update to Israel's modus operandi or formulating a new approach that would allow to Israel to eliminate the threat effectively while avoiding an all-out military confrontation," said the assessment.

Conflict in the south

The potential for yet another Israel-Hamas flare-up is also extremely high in 2019. Although there are many factors that contribute to this assumption, the three main reasons are: the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the Strip; sanctions imposed on Hamas in Gaza by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; and the erosion of Israel's deterrence, which was achieved in the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

Unless Israel is planning a preemptive strike on Hezbollah’s factories to produce precision-guided missiles, which would ensure a military confrontation, the IDF should divert all its efforts to rebuilding the deterrence against Hamas by inflicting significant blows on the terror group’s military wing. Although Gaza poses an immediate threat, it is less grave in scale than the northern front.

Deteriorating situation in the West Bank

The Trump administration is due to release its "deal of the century" peace plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The chances of the plan’s success, however, are slim. The Palestinian Authority has already rejected the proposal, and the best case scenario is that Israel would win the "blame game," putting the onus of the failure of the latest American peace effort on the Palestinians.

But Israel would still have to bear the consequences of such a failure, which would undoubtedly lead to further instability and unrest in the West Bank. In the long term, there is the danger of a binational state forming in the absence of a two-state solution, which would threaten Israel’s identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people. 

The Iran nuclear program 

There are two low-probability extreme scenarios concerning the Iranian nuclear program that could come to pass in the coming year. The first is Iran acquiring an atomic bomb in the North Korean model in an effort to negotiate from a position of power. The second scenario is the toppling of the ayatollahs regime, which by all indications is stable and capable of suppressing any public unrest.

14 January 2019

Nnamdi Kanu, Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, speaks on Radio Biafra from Israel and answers my question - January 12, 2019

I submitted a question on Facebook during the interactive broadcast by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu on Saturday night. Imagine my surprise as  he took my question! Here it is plus the broadcast below in full. 

Naomi: What is the best way for Biafrans to avoid being brutalized by the Zoo military as they go about during their everyday movements in the Zoo?                            

Nnamdi Kanu: "The way we go about it, how we avoid it is by making sure that we don't confront them in any way, shape or form; to understand that there are a lot of traitors. You know that during the war that lasted for three years 1967-70 and during the years of occupation to about 1975-76 that a lot of Fulani soldiers fathered some people in our land, that is the truth. The Fulani soldiers that came, raped some women or some women perhaps due to the need to feed their family found themselves in very compromising positions with some of these Fulani soldiers and they fell pregnant and they gave birth to children. Some of them has our names. And you know that deep down they have Fulani blood cursing through their veins. 

Image result for nnamdi kanu
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu
So, we have those people and they will continue to do whatever they can to undermine our efforts. They can be in ...Lagos or Kano or Madhugri with a Biafran name. But you don't know you are dealing with a dishonest person, just like Rochas Okorocha is today. 

So what we need to do is be very careful - make sure that we avoid where they are, make sure that we conduct our conversations, especially for our officers on social media by which I mean, like Telegram or Whatsapp; avoid making use of the number you are using as your Whatsapp line, little things like that can make a lot of difference. We must be very conscious ... "

"That was from Naomi, one of our very staunch supporters who is a citizen of Israel. Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much."

10 January 2019

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (January 2 – 8, 2019)

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (January 2 – 8, 2019) 

via The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

  • "This past week there was an increase in the level of violence from the Gaza Strip. During the “return march” events and in the days afterwards there were attempts to break through the security fence and infiltrate into Israeli territory; an IED was launched into Israeli territory attached to a cluster of balloons; a rocket was launched at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. The IDF responded with attacks on Hamas targets.
  • The increase in tension on the ground was accompanied by Hamas complaints about the freezing of the third payment of money from Qatar and threats that if the funds did not reach the Gaza Strip by the end of the week they would gradually return to activity [i.e., violence] on the Israel border, which would peak the following Friday (Hezbollah-affiliated al-Akhbar, Lebanon, January 8, 2019).
  • Meanwhile, tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) reached a new high: there were mass detentions by Hamas of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip; the PA personnel at the Rafah Crossing were evacuated and operatives of Hamas’ security forces replaced them; the offices of the PA television station in Gaza City were raided and vandalized, and workers were assaulted (senior Fatah and PA figures accused Hamas). The tension may increase Hamas’ motivation to raise the level of violence against Israel.
  • This past week the Israeli security forces detained ‘Assem Barghouti, who was responsible for the shooting attack at Givat Asaf (Ramallah region; two IDF soldiers were killed). He and his brother were also involved in the shooting attack at the bus stop in Ofra (Ramallah region; seven people were injured and a baby born prematurely died). ‘Assem Barghouti was released from an Israeli jail in April 2018 after serving a term of eleven years."
Palestinian demonstrators en route to the
Palestinian demonstrators en route to "return camp" in eastern Gaza City

02 January 2019

Leader of Biafra Nnamdi Kanu's 2019 New Year Address: "Let The People Decide"

I am deeply moved by @MaziNnamdiKanu's New Year Address as he builds #Biafra from #Israel. 
As great as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream'  #BiafraReferendum2019 #IPOB

I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr

via YouTube

01 January 2019

Lebanese Voices Call for Hezbollah to Renounce Ties with Iran or Leave

via The Trumpet 
As Iran garners more power in Lebanon, it is also becoming more accountable to the Lebanese. 
   November 22 should have been a day of celebration in Lebanon. That date marked the 75th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence from France. But no one was celebrating an independent and sovereign state.
This year, it is more apparent than ever that Lebanon is no longer independent. It is dependent on Iran. 
Iran has achieved this control through funding and controlling Hezbollah, a Shiite group that dominates southern Lebanon. 
While we in the West understand Hezbollah is a terrorist group, in Lebanon, Hezbollah is an official political party that won the most seats in the Lebanese Parliament in an election earlier this year. 
Nevertheless, most Lebanese are furious about how Hezbollah serves the interests of Iran rather than the interests of Lebanon. 
Lebanon is the most religiously diverse nation in the Middle East. Lebanese Shiites, whose main political representation is Hezbollah, account for only a quarter of the population. But not all of them support Hezbollah, politically or otherwise. 
Most observers write off Lebanon as being nothing more than an Iranian vassal. But there are actually many indications that Lebanon is about ready to throw off Iran’s powerful hold. 
Hezbollah Holding Lebanon for Ransom 
Even though elections were held eight months ago, Lebanon is still without a functioning government. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a huge issue. However, Lebanon is facing extreme financial pressure. According to Lebanon’s president, unemployment is just under 50 percent. Public debt sits at 150 percent of gross domestic product, making Lebanon one of the most indebted nations on Earth. Add to this the fact that one quarter of those living in Lebanon are actually refugees from Syria, and you have a desperate need for cash.

31 December 2018

The Other Tunnels: Hamas, Egypt and Islamic State in Sinai

The Other Tunnels: Hamas, Egypt and Islamic State in Sinai via AUSTRALIA/ISRAEL REVIEW

In the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas overnight which saw more than 170 rockets and mortars fired into Israel, Israeli forces struck around 140 targets in Gaza. Among them were “a factory where the terror groups constructs the concrete blocks it uses for attack tunnels and a fully operational tunnel opening near the Gaza coast belonging to Hamas’ naval commando unit” according to the Times of Israel.
Israel has destroyed a number of such terror tunnels over the last two years, and while the problem is not solved, as Gabrielle Burack reported in the latest Australia/Israel Review edition, new Israeli technological solutions are expected to at least significantly reduce this threat.
Although not in the headlines quite as often as the “terror tunnels” Hamas and associated terrorist groups in the Gaza strip construct into Israel to kill or kidnap soldiers and civilians, the subterranean tunnel economy between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt is just as important and just as dangerous.
According to one Palestinian interviewed by the Guardian, “if there were no tunnels, there would be such a heavy price that it would force Hamas to sit and find a solution” to the blockade. For all the Egyptian and Israeli efforts to destroy them, the tunnel business continues – though there are signs that Egyptian efforts are making a significant dent, albeit at a very high price to local residents.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007 after the violent conquest by Hamas, which uncompromisingly advocates violence and the destruction of Israel. Hamas has partially offset this state of affairs by building thousands of tunnels that honeycomb the entirety of Gaza itself and extend hundreds of metres or even kilometres into both Israel and Egypt, forming a “tunnel village” for the transfer of every sort of good, from medicine, clothing, food, and fuel to cars, weapons, livestock, and even people.
These tunnels range in size and sophistication, from small and shallow dirt passages to massive and electrified corridors over sixty feet underground, some large enough to drive a truck through. Although certain tunnels are designated solely for military operations or smuggling certain goods, they are dual use, occasionally running into both Egypt and Israel and allegedly rivalling the Viet Cong’s Chu Chi tunnel network during the Vietnam War.