Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Beirut – Damascus Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: First Week of June Iaf Conducted Air Maneuvers in Eastern Mediterranean and Over Greece to Practice Air Attacks on Iran Nuclear – Ballistic Missile Sites
Night Watch: EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN – “The IAF (Israel Air Force) regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.” The main threat of course is by no means from Gaza or even Hezbollah in Lebanon, but Iran-Syria. The quote was the matter of fact explanation by an Israel Defense Force (IDF) official as media reports circulated world-wide the IAF had indeed conducted a large scale rehearsal of an attack on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile sites during the first week of June in the Eastern Mediterranean and over part of Greece. Most of the reports came through an article in the New York Times in which the Jerusalem Post/AP quoted Pentagon sources which indicated the maneuvers accomplished several things. No details were given but it seems more than a hundred fighter bombers were involved, F-16s and F-15s as were helicopters practicing the rescue of downed pilots. Refueling tankers also participated in the exercise that covered more than 900 miles, (1,440 km) which is approximately the distance between Israel and Iran’s nuclear site at Natanz. Since Natanz has been so highly publicized I am not sure how important that site is and it is known Iran has constructed dummy sites to fool any attack. [JPOST]
The liaison between the IAF and Pentagon is U. S. Air Force Lieutenant-General William Fraser whose presence in the region became known publicly last January (cfw=1-10-08) as Washington shifted from a road map to peace to a road map to war. Israel is the only country in the region in a position to carry out several joint operations with the Pentagon which is why I have always suspected Tehran wants major fighting on several fronts in this region to erupt simultaneously to reduce the chances of Jerusalem-Washington working together against Damascus-Tehran.
Israeli military analyst Martin Van Creveld, though he supported the maneuvers and attacks on Iran, is doubtful any raids will completely destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons industry. “Israel has been talking about this possibility for a long time, that it would not take an Iranian nuclear weapon lying down. And it has been practicing this operation or operations for a long time. I would be very surprised if Israel can really knock out every part of this program which by all accounts appears to be large and well concealed and well dispersed.” But I do not believe Tehran wants Israel to be in a position to attack first since that would be the best chance for Jerusalem-Washington of seizing the initiative from Iran something Tehran has maintained ever since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Though Iran is known to have increased its air patrols and air defenses around its nuclear sites and with Iran witnessing these IAF maneuvers, Tehran may now decide to have Palestinian militants and then Hezbollah go into action to put Israel more obviously on the defensive. At the same time Iran may have Shia militias, including the Mahdi Army to begin more attacks against U. S. forces in Iraq.
These air maneuvers may have confirmed my belief the reason Israel’s defense establishment agreed to the ceasefire with Hamas, however tenuous, is so Israel can concentrate on the more serious threats to their north and east.
Ramallah – INN is reporting Hamas and Palestinian militant units are threatening to resume rocket-missile attacks from Gaza if the Israel Defense Force (IDF) continues its counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank (Judea-Samaria). Islamic Jihad deputy leader, Ziad Nakahleh warned, “We will respond even if the violation takes place in the West Bank.” To the Palestinian state of mind the violation will indeed take place because the IDF has no intention of allowing heavily armed militant groups to establish a major presence in the West Bank as they already have in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is also saying the continued closure of the Rafah Terminal on the Egypt/Gaza/Israel border is also a violation of what they perceived to be an understanding as part of the ceasefire agreement. According to Palestinian militants they are now justified to resume their rocket-missile attacks. [INN]