Welcome! My Blog focuses on security and political news, current events, and technology happenings.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
Israel Matzav: Yesterday's terrorists
Great post. Read it all as well as the article links within the post.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Bloggers worldwide wil be preparing an individual tribute for each of the 2,996 victims of 9/11. (sign up here). Each blogger will be responsible for one victim. Mine is Francisco Cruz, age 47, killed at the World Trade Center. On 9/11/06 I will have more... (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)
Update: Here is the project's homepage/blog.
Update: Here is my tribute to Francisco Cruz.
Good post by Israel Matzav. Here's a quote he brings:
Israel Matzav: What Israeli security could teach the US
Anyway, let's hear what Jeff Jacoby has to say on the subject.Nearly five years after Sept. 11, 2001, US airport security remains obstinately focused on intercepting bad things -- guns, knives, explosives. It is a reactive policy, aimed at preventing the last terrorist plot from being repeated. The 9/11 hijackers used box cutters as weapons, so sharp metal objects were barred from carry-on luggage. Would-be suicide terrorist Richard Reid tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe, so now everyone's footwear is screened for tampering. Earlier this month British authorities foiled a plan to blow up airliners with liquid explosives; as a result, toothpaste and cologne have become air-travel contraband.
Of course the Israelis check for bombs and weapons too, but always with the understanding that things don't hijack planes, terrorists do -- and that the best way to detect terrorists is to focus on intercepting not bad things, but bad people. To a much greater degree than in the United States, security at El Al and Ben Gurion depends on intelligence and intuition -- what Rafi Ron, the former director of security at Ben Gurion, calls the human factor.
Israeli airport security, much of it invisible to the untrained eye, begins before passengers even enter the terminal. Officials constantly monitor behavior, alert to clues that may hint at danger: bulky clothing, say, or a nervous manner. Profilers -- that's what they're called -- make a point of interviewing travelers, sometimes at length. They probe, as one profiling supervisor told CBS, for ``anything out of the ordinary, anything that does not fit." Their questions can seem odd or intrusive, especially if your only previous experience with an airport interrogation was being asked whether you packed your bags yourself.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
As you probably have heard, the UK is on "critical" alert, equivalent to our Red Alert level. All flights from the UK to the US are on Red alert withing the United States. This is the first time any portion of the United states has been on Red (or Severe) alert since 9/11. All flights in the US are on Orange Alert - both domestic and International (arriving only, I guess departing international flights will remain at yellow).
This is not solely an intellectual excercise for me. I am flying today. On American Airlines - one of the three airlines targeted in the thwarted terrorist murder attempt (United, Continental, and American).
I will blog the experience of the TSA in upheaval from California.
I will be saying Tefilat Haderech (prayer for travels) with a little extra concentration today.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Still unsure if Hezbollah really uses human shields? Standwithus has video showing Hezbollah's savagery and contempt for human life by firing from behind civilians, using mosques as missile depots, and using ambulances as getaway cars. Believe the videos, not their word. Every single act is an explicit war crime, outlined specifically in the Geneva Conventions (4th conv. full text here). (Hat tip: Mere Rhetoric)
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Via Ynet News:
Israel transfers food, fuels, medical supplies to Gaza
Thursday, some 160 trucks full of food, and medical supplies crossed from Israel into Gaza, via the liaison and coordination administration, via Karni crossing.
Likewise, some 700 thousand liters of diesel fuel, 1000 liters of benzene and 125 tons of gas were also transferred. (Efrat Weiss)
Israel Matzav writes and quotes Arutz-7 on the increasing and overwhelming evidence that the Qana tradgedy was not even a mistake by the IAF, it was a fake.
Holy smokes, here is an in-depth article on the reactions and responses of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command) on 9/11. The article also has have exclusive audio files. It is a chilling walk back to that horrible day...
BOSTON CENTER: Hi. Boston Center T.M.U. [Traffic Management Unit], we have a problem here. We have a hijacked aircraft headed towards New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out.
POWELL: Is this real-world or exercise?
BOSTON CENTER: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.
ROUNTREE: A plane just hit the World Trade Center.
ROUNTREE: Was it a 737?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (background): Hit what?
WATSON: The World Trade Center—
DOOLEY: Who are you talking to? [Gasps.]
DOOLEY: Get—pass—pass it to them—
WATSON: Oh my God. Oh God. Oh my God.
ROUNTREE: Saw it on the news. It's—a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.
DOOLEY: Update New York! See if they lost altitude on that plane altogether.
There have been many suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks thwarted over the past few weeks due to the miracles of Hashem. Here is another one, which I am posting just because I love her name. (hint: it's in spanish)
Nablus woman arrested on way to kidnap attempt in TA
Cleared for publication: Israel Police and Shin Bet forces, operating jointly, arrested Punta Abu Aish, a Palestinian woman from Nablus, who intended to drug a Jewish Israeli and kidnap him. Her investigation revealed that she intended to transfer the kidnapped person to Tanzeem operatives in Nablus.
Treppenwitz writes of a difficult lesson he watched being doled out while he was in the Navy. He writes that, while sickening, the lesson needed to be completed in its entirety.
A difficult lesson
When I was in the Navy, I once witnessed a bar fight in downtown Olongapo (Philippines) that still haunts my dreams. The fight was between a big oafish Marine and a rather soft-spoken, medium sized Latino sailor from my ship.
All evening the Marine had been trying to pick a fight with one of us and had finally set his sights on this diminutive shipmate of mine... figuring him for a safe target. When my friend refused to be goaded into a fight the Marine sucker punched him from behind on the side of the head so hard that blood instantly started to pour from this poor man's mutilated ear.
Everyone present was horrified and was prepared to absolutely murder this Marine, but my shipmate quickly turned on him and began to single-handedly back him towards a corner with a series of stinging jabs and upper cuts that gave more than a hint to a youth spent boxing in a small gym in the Bronx.
Each punch opened a cut on the Marine's startled face and by the time he had been backed completely into the corner he was blubbering for someone to stop the fight. He invoked his split lips and chipped teeth as reasons to stop the fight. He begged us to stop the fight because he could barely see through the river of blood that was pouring out of his split and swollen brows.
Nobody moved. Not one person.
The only sound in the bar was the sickening staccato sound of this sailor's lightning fast fists making contact with new areas of the Marine's head. The only sound I have heard since that was remotely similar was from the first Rocky film when Sylvester Stallone was punching sides of beef in the meat locker.
Finally the Marine's pleading turned to screams.... a high, almost womanly shriek. And still the punches continued relentlessly.
Several people in the bar took a few tentative steps as though they wanted to try to break it up at that point, but hands reached out from the crowd and held them tight. I'm not ashamed to say that mine were two of the hands that held someone back.
You see, in between each blow the sailor had begun chanting a soft cadence: "Say [punch] you [punch] give [punch] up [punch]... say [punch] you [punch]were [punch] wrong [punch]".
He had been repeating it to the Marine almost from the start but we only became aware of it when the typical barroom cheers had died down and we began to be sickened by the sight and sound of the carnage.
This Marine stood there shrieking in the corner of the bar trying futilely to block the carefully timed punches that were cutting his head to tatters... right down to the skull in places. But he refused to say that he gave up... or that he was wrong.
Even in the delirium of his beating he believed in his heart that someone would stop the fight before he had to admit defeat. I'm sure this strategy had served him well in the past and had allowed him to continue on his career as a barroom bully.
Finally, in a wail of agony the Marine shrieked "I give up", and we gently backed the sailor away from him.
I'm sure you can guess why I have shared this story today.
I'm not particularly proud to have been witness to such a bloody spectacle, and the sound of that Marine's woman-like shrieks will haunt me to my grave. But I learned something that evening that Israel had better learn for itself if it is to finally be rid of at least one of its tormentors:
This is one time an Arab aggressor must be allowed to be beaten so badly that every civilized nation will stand in horror, wanting desperately to step in and stop the carnage... but knowing that the fight will only truly be over when one side gives up and finally admits defeat.
Just as every person who had ever rescued that bully from admitting defeat helped create the cowardly brute I saw that evening in the bar, every well-intentioned power that has ever stepped in and negotiated a ceasefire for an Arab aggressor has helped create the monsters we see around us today.
President Lahoud of Lebanon, a big Hezbollah supporter and a close ally of Syria, has been shrieking non-stop to the UN Security Council for the past two days to get them to force Israel into a cease fire.
Clearly he has been reading his autographed copy of 'Military Success for Dummies Arab Despots' by the late Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. Ever since Nasser accidentally discovered the trick in '56, every subsequent Arab leader has stuck to his tried and true formula for military success:
1. Instigate a war.
2. Once the war is well underway and you are in the process of having your ass handed to you... get a few world powers to force your western opponent into a cease fire.
3. Whatever you do, don't surrender or submit to any terms dictated by your enemy. That would ruin everything! All you have to do is wait it out and eventually the world will become sickened at what is being done to your soldiers and civilian population... and will force a truce.
4. Once a truce has been called you can resume your intransigence (which probably caused the conflict in the first place), and even declare victory as your opponent leaves the field of battle.
This tactic has never failed. Not once.
In fact it worked so will for the Egyptians in 1973, that to this day they celebrate the Yom Kippur War - a crushing defeat at the hands of Israel - as a military victory! No kidding... it's a national holiday over there!
President Lahoud has already begun to shriek like a school girl to the UN Security Council to "Stop the violence and arrange a cease-fire, and then after that we'll be ready to discuss all matters."
Uh huh. Forgive me if I find that a tad hard to swallow. He allowed Hezbollah to take over his country. He allowed the regular Lebanese army to provide radar targeting data for the Hezbollah missile that struck the Israeli destroyer. He has turned a blind eye while Iranian and Syrian weapons, advisers and money have poured into his country.
And now that his country is in ruins he wants to call it a draw.
As much as it may sicken the world to stand by and watch it happen, strong hands need to hold back the weak-hearted and let the fight continue until one side finally admits unambiguous defeat.
Looking for apartments in Haifa
Blogger Kishkushim was looking for apartments in Haifawhen the air raid siren sounded... [emphasis mine]
Third Siren in Haifa
My boyfriend and I decided to look for apartments anyway even though there had been a few sirens earlier in the day. Around 7:00 PM, after we had just arrived at the first apartment in Stella Maris (the same street where Haifa's first-ever katyusha had landed), the sirens sounded again. The woman whose apartment we were looking at didn't have a "mamad" (a "safe room") so she told us, "Get into the shower - and take a look at the bathroom while you're there." We waited out the siren in her small bathroom and then she showed us the rest of the apartment.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
In addition to the great bloggers Israellycool and Israel Matzav (and many others), a new Israeli blogger has joined the fray: Yoni the Blogger. Enjoy his great news and analysis.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The following is a good analysis by Strafor on Israel's recent heavy (10,000 strong) incursion into Lebanon.
Special Report: The Ground Offensive
By George Friedman
Israeli forces are well into their main ground offensive into Lebanon. It is difficult to hide a strategic offensive of this size, but Israel has made no attempt to hide this one at all. The three-week air offensive, followed by the pseudo cease-fire and disagreements in the Israeli Cabinet on strategy, made it necessary for Israel literally to announce its offensive. Ultimately, this gave Hezbollah little advantage. It might have wanted to halt fighting at this point, but it certainly knew that for precisely this reason Israel would have to intensify the fighting. There might be elements of tactical surprise, but strategic surprise is gone.
(click to enlarge)
Hezbollah is now fighting the war it wanted and prepared for. Its forces are well-dispersed and dug into bunkers. Supplies for extended combat have undoubtedly been distributed in these strongholds so they require no re-supply. Certainly the Israelis will do everything they can to prevent it. Command has clearly devolved to the lowest possible unit, so contact with central headquarters is not necessary for fighting. Hezbollah is not going to be engaged in maneuver. It will fight where it stands.
As we have said before, the strategy looks more like the way the Japanese defended Pacific islands against the U.S. Marines during World War II than anything else. Hezbollah fighters are defending in depth from interlocking strong points. They have constructed these strong points in order to survive artillery and airstrikes. They are forcing the Israelis to close with the strong points and take them in close combat. The Japanese did not necessarily expect to survive the battles. Their goal was to inflict disproportionate casualties on the attacking troops in order to force reconsideration of the strategy of island-hopping and set the stage for a political settlement. The Japanese failed because they underestimated the U.S. capacity for absorbing casualties and the size of the force available. But the strategy, while ineffective, was based on a real confidence that their own forces would be willing to engage in battles of annihilation when it was their own annihilation that was certain, and when their mission was to delay and impose casualties on the enemy.
There are many differences here, but Hezbollah's core strategy appears to be the same. Its deployment has enormous value if its forces are prepared to fight to the end, imposing time penalties and casualties on Israel. If its strong points can hold out for extended periods of time, some of them firing missiles at Israel, then the Israelis have no option but to close and engage in intense sequential firefights that will take time and cost lives. If it can fight a battle of annihilation yet delay and hurt the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Hezbollah might well force a political settlement. If not, it can still gain a political victory by being the first Arab force to force Israel into high attrition combat.
Therefore, Israel's strategy must be twofold. First, it must end the war with the catastrophic destruction of Hezbollah's military capability. It could survive as a political force, but its military strength, and therefore its coercive presence in Lebanon, must be ended. Second, Israel must do this in a time frame and at a cost in casualties that does not allow Hezbollah to claim victory regardless of the consequences to its own forces. Third, it must carry out this operation before U.S. political interests in the region (pressure from allies in Iraq, the Saudis and so forth) force the United States to compel Israel to agree to a genuine cease-fire, as opposed to the pseudo cease-fire engineered by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that actually bought Israel more time.
In other words, Hezbollah's strategy is to force Israel to fight a war that takes as long as possible, using Israeli time urgency to force Israel to move rapidly against strong points incurring maximum casualties. Israel's strategy is to use its greater mobility and firepower to break Hezbollah as quickly as possible with minimum casualties. The issue is how well-prepared Hezbollah's defenses actually are and how well-motivated its troops are after a three-week bombing campaign. How long can Hezbollah maintain its tempo of operations on a tactical level?
Israel's strength is in its firepower and its mobility. Its mobility has value primarily when fighting against a force with a substantial logistical tail. Cutting nonexistent supply lines against a force that has its supplies organically attached to it does not allow encirclement to take place. This limits the utility of dynamic mobile operations in most senses. There is one sense, however, that allows this to go on.
One of Israel's strategic goals, apart from crushing Hezbollah, is eliminating Hezbollah's ability to fire rockets and missiles into Israel, and particularly to Haifa and points south. It is difficult to know precisely the range of Hezbollah's rockets and missiles and how many they have, but it is clear that simply attacking Lebanon south of the Litani River will not solve that problem. To guarantee an end to rocket attacks, we estimate Israel will have to push Hezbollah back to Riyaq to end the threat from Zelzal-2 rockets, to Baalbek to protect Tel Aviv, and to Hermel to protect Haifa. To protect against the Fajr-5, Israel will have to push as deep as 10 miles north of the Litani along the coast. It is possible to bomb launchers and storage sites, and Israel can hit what it knows about, but the problem is it cannot have certain knowledge of what it knows unless it goes in on the ground. Intelligence is never as good as going and seeing.
(click to enlarge)
This means if Israel wants to destroy all of Hezbollah's military force and destroy existing threats from rockets, it will have to do more than attack Lebanon south of the Litani. It will have to go deep into the Bekaa Valley and it will have to go north of the Litani along the coast. Logic has it that Israel would therefore attempt to encircle south Lebanon along the Litani and move into the Bekaa Valley and north along the coast to isolate Hezbollah from support before dealing with intense fighting in southern Lebanon. This poses obvious logistical problems, since two armored thrusts would have to be supported by relatively few roads leading out of the Israeli panhandle in the north; Israel would want to capture roads in southeastern Lebanon near Metulla in preparation for such a thrust.
It appears (and this is from far away) that is what Israel is doing. Israeli troops are engaged in four separate locations across southern Lebanon, and have reportedly pushed as deep as several miles past the Lebanese border. IDF units remain in Maroun al-Ras, although the town of Bent Jbail has reportedly been devastated and abandoned. Paratroopers are in Aita el-Shaab to the west, where Hezbollah has said there is house-to-house fighting; four Hezbollah fighters were reportedly killed. The Golani and Nahal brigades continue to battle Hezbollah in the villages of Al Adisa, Kfar Kila and Taibe, with reports of fighting as far north as Marjayoun. Approximately 60 IDF D9 armored Caterpillar bulldozers are flattening abandoned Hezbollah positions across southern Lebanon. An Israeli airstrike targeted a westbound road out of Hermel with five air-to-surface missiles in the northern Bekaa Valley. The main border crossing from Beirut to Damascus at Masnaa was also struck.
These are fragmentary reports available by wire services. They are far from defining what is happening on the ground. But what seems to be happening is the IDF is engaging forces in the south carefully while action is taking place in the east and west. The remaining strategic question is whether Israel will focus on southern Lebanon and leave the missile threat and a large part of Hezbollah forces out of its plans, or whether it will drive into the Bekaa and up the coast to deal with Hezbollah in detail. It would seem to us that this would give Israel the maximum advantage, dealing with Hezbollah more completely, taking advantage of its greater mobility and air power and using artillery and airstrikes to grind down Hezbollah and attempt to break its morale in the south. What is unknown, of course, is the disposition and capabilities of Hezbollah north of the Litani and in the Bekaa. We suspect the Israelis might find the same resistance in the Bekaa as in the border region.
In the long run, the correlation of forces dictates Israeli victory. But there are other variables. Time and casualties could turn a military success into a political defeat for Israel. Moreover, if the outcome of the attack is that Israel is forced to occupy Lebanese territory for an extended period of time, then the cost of counterinsurgency operations mount. Israel's strategy is clear. Move in fast, deal a catastrophic blow to Hezbollah, withdraw leaving the Lebanese army or a European peacekeeping force in its place. Hezbollah has drawn Israel in. It expects a catastrophic blow but its intention is to impose tremendous costs on Israel and then create a situation in which peacekeeping forces will not deploy, forcing Israel into a counterinsurgency.
So, the questions now are whether Israel moves north of the Litani, how long Hezbollah will resist and what the cost will be to Israel. Gen. Dan Halutz, chief of staff of the IDF and architect of that air campaign, was hospitalized for the second time July 31, complaining of stomach pains. Should Halutz go out of commission, his deputy, Moshe Kaplinsky, will take command. Kaplinsky is drawn from army, having commanded the Golani Brigade, with long experience in Lebanon. This brings expertise on ground warfare to the top spot in the IDF, particularly in combined infantry-armored operations in Lebanon. Israel has focused down on the main battle now. Hezbollah has been focused for a while. As the cliche goes, the outcome is in doubt, in large part because like all wars, the end of this one is political -- and the intersection of the political with the military complicates the war enormously.
Israel Matzav has a few articles on the accumulating evidence that something is very wrong about the entire Qana tragedy. People are definately dead. But was the building collapse set up to blame Israel? Were previously dead people moved to the building before it was imploded? I know I sound a lot like loony conspiracy theorist, heck, I may even sound like the paleos, but looking at all of the evidence, things sure don't add up. My hope is, that when the IDF do figure out what really happened, they yell the truth out loud for everyone to hear...then ignore...
Last night, yesterday morning and Sunday, I posted doubts that the IDF and several bloggers have raised regarding what really happened at Qana. Those doubts related to the sudden appearance of a 30-foot high banner of US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice just a couple of hours after the so-called massacre, and the lack of an explanation for an eight-hour gap between the time that the building was bombed and the time that it collapsed. Also on Sunday, I quoted a Lebanese blogger who implied that Hezbullah was not allowing cranes to come and pry bodies out of the building. That assertion takes on increased importance below.
...There are other mysteries. The roof of the building was intact. Journalist Ben Wedeman of CNN noted that there was a larger crater next to the building, but observed that the building appeared not to have collapsed as a result of the Israeli strike.
Why would the civilians who had supposedly taken shelter in the basement of the building not leave after the post-midnight attack? They just went back to sleep and had the bad luck to wait for the building to collapse in the morning? [Some of you may recall that I asked the same question here. CiJ]
What we do know is that sometime after dawn a call went hour to journalists and rescue workers to come to the scene. And come they did.
While Hezbollah and its apologists have been claiming that civilians could not freely flee the scene due to Israeli destruction of bridges and roads, the journalists and rescue teams from nearby Tyre had no problem getting there.
Lebanese rescue teams did not start evacuating the building until the morning and only after the camera crews came. The absence of a real rescue effort was explained by saying that equipment was lacking. There were no scenes of live or injured people being extracted. [Recall that I reported early on Sunday from a Lebanese blogger that Hezbullah was not allowing cranes to be used to pull people out of the rubble. CiJ]
There was little blood, CNN’s Wedeman noted: all the victims, he concluded, appeared to have died while as they were sleeping — sleeping, apparently, through thunderous Israeli air attacks. Rescue workers equipped with cameras were removing the bodies from the same opening in the collapsed structure. Journalists were not allowed near the collapsed building.
Rescue workers filmed as they went carried the victims on the stretchers, occasionally flipping up the blankets so that cameras could show the faces and bodies of the dead.
But Israelis steeled to scenes of carnage from Palestinian suicide bombings and Hezbollah rocket attack could not help but notice that these victims did not look like our victims. Their faces were ashen gray. Their limbs appeared to have stiffened, from rigor mortis. Neither were effects that would have resulted from an Israeli attack hours before. These were bodies that looked like they had been dead for days.
Viewers can judge for themselves. But the accumulating evidence suggests another explanation for what happened at Kana. The scenario would be a setup in which the time between the initial Israeli bombing near the building and morning reports of its collapse would have been used to "plant" bodies killed in previous fighting — reports in previous days indicated that nearby Tyre was used as a temporary morgue — place them in the basement, and then engineer a "controlled demolition" to fake another Israeli attack.