News Digest — 8/12/2021
Israel Hands CIA Chief Dossier On Iran’s ‘Deranged’ New President
The Director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency David Barnea has presented CIA chief Wiliam Burns with a dossier warning that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is mentally unstable and incapable of abiding by any international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
Raisi was sworn in last week, replacing perceived moderate Hassan Rouhani in what was seen as a hardline shift by Tehran.
Israel confirmed that Burns met Tuesday (10th) with Barnea to discuss the Iranian nuclear program “and other regional challenges.”
According to Israeli media, the dossier paints the new Iranian leader as a “deranged misfit” with an exceptionally cruel streak. Raisi is subject to US sanctions imposed over the executions of political prisoners in 1988, in which he denies playing a role. The executions of thousands of dissidents during his judicial career earned him the moniker “Butcher of Tehran.”
Burns, who arrived in Israel Tuesday (10th), held talks Wednesday (11th) with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, with Iran again high on the agenda.
The Prime Minister’s Office said after their meeting Wednesday (11th) that the two “discussed tightening intelligence and security cooperation between Israel and the US, and expanding and deepening regional cooperation.”
Raisi, 60, is seen as close to 81-year-old Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Iran.
His victory had been widely anticipated after the Guardian Council made up of 12 clerics and jurists, had approved just seven candidates, all men, out of a field of almost 600 hopefuls.
Israel expressed alarm at his election, with Bennett saying that the move was a final opportunity for world powers to “wake up” to the true nature of the regime in Tehran.
“These guys are murderers – mass murderers. A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction that will enable them to kill millions, not just thousands. Israel’s position will not change on this,” Bennett added.
Newly Appointed Iranian Minister Complicit In Bombing Of Jewish Center In Argentina
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi presented a Cabinet dominated by hardliners on Wednesday (11th), state TV reported, providing one of the first glimpses into the policies he might pursue over the next four years.
The Cabinet list included no Women, few surprises and several officials from Iran’s paramilitary Guard. The nominees must still be confirmed by Iran’s parliament, which is expected to convene Saturday (14th).
Among those appointed is General Ahmad Vahidi as interior minister. Vahidi is a former defense minister blacklisted by the US in 2010 and wanted by Interpol over his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. The terror attack killed 85 people and wounded hundreds.
Vahidi also served as commander of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force in the late 1980s, responsible for Tehran’s proxies across the Mideast.
He was Iran’s defense minister from 2009 to 2013 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president.
Israel’s foreign ministry condemned the appointment of Vahidi.
In a statement on Twitter Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat appealed to the international community to denounce the appointment.
“This is the face of Iran’s new terror government led by President Raisi, who is responsible for the murder of thousands of Iranians,” Haiat stated.
Retired British Colonel: Only An Attack On Iran Will Be Effective
The more time passes since recent attacks on Western-owned ships, the more fingers are pointing at Iran and its ayatollah regime as responsible. Meanwhile, there is growing demand that Iran be forced to pay a price.
One of these voices is Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, formerly of the British Army, who is calling for a harsh response to Iran.
In an interview with Israel Hayom, Kemp said that nations are “keeping their heads down” when it comes to Iran, or demonstrating weakness, which is merely “asking for trouble.”
This approach, Kemp says, will only lead to increased aggression. The only way to win, he said, is to increase the advantage against Iran.
Kemp served for nearly 30 years in the British Army, starting as an infantry soldier and earning promotions until he was put in charge of the British forces in Afghanistan in 2003. He then joined the committee that supervised the country’s intelligence services. He was discharged in 2006.
Kemp thinks that Western nations could respond to the deaths of a British and a Romanian citizen in the attack on the Israeli-operated Mercer Street ship off the coast of Oman in a few different ways. He says the most “appropriate” would be to send in special forces or carry out airstrikes against the parties responsible for the attack on the vessel, or against drone manufacturing facilities.
A cyber action would also be a possibility, he said.
Kemp says that “restoring deterrence” does not mean summoning ambassadors to make stringent statements at the UN, or even applying sanctions – it means a “military action to prevent further attacks by the ayatollahs.”
In that context, Kemp says that no matter what decision is taken about a response, it needs to be stronger than the Iranian attack on the ship Mercer Street, and be executed quickly. “It will require specific intelligence, and there’s no doubt Israel can help,” he pointed out.
However, Kemp is unsure that Britain will take the lead in any action against the Iranian regime of new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
He said that in the 2000s, he took part in meetings with British government functionaries to weigh how to respond to a few cases of British soldiers being murdered in Iraq by proxy forces that were deployed and armed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“I recommended a military response against them, inside Iran. Instead, fingers were pointed at Iranian diplomats, and the killings continued,” Kemp said.
Freeze UNRWA Funds To Gaza Schools Over Hamas Attack-Tunnels, Erdan Says
Funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools for Palestinian children in Gaza must be frozen as long as Hamas refuses to allow international inspections of the attack tunnels found near and under educational institutions, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan said on Wednesday (11th).
The UN “cannot allow its own schools and buildings to be used as sanctuaries for terrorists and terror activity,” Erdan said in a letter he wrote to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
At issue were two Hamas tunnels found in proximity of two UNRWA schools this summer in the aftermath of the 11-Day Gaza war in May, known as Operation Guardian of the Walls. One was in Zeitoun and the other in Rafah.
The UN had sent a team from its Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to inspect the area of the tunnels at the schools, which are expected to service some 4,000 students when they open this month.
Hamas, however, prevented the UNMAS teams from inspecting the area by the Zeitoun school. As a result, the UN canceled the Rafah site visit.
Erdan called on Guterres and “all relevant UN bodies to condemn Hamas and to freeze all funding of UNRWA’s facilities in Gaza and bar the usage thereof until the completion of a thorough and independent investigation of Hamas’ use and abuse of these institutions to advance its reign of terror.”
When asked about the issue at a briefing in New York, however, Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said only that UNRWA schools should be violence-free.
“It is critical for every UN premise anywhere in the world to be free of weapons or anything that would put that premise at risk.”
UNRWA itself condemns the construction of terror tunnels near its schools and the control of its facilities by the “de facto” authorities in Gaza, but did not name Hamas as a culprit.
UNRWA condemned the construction and use of the tunnels and said that it had written letters of complaint to the Gaza de facto authorities.
“The Agency has also protested the takeover by the de facto authorities of one of these schools, which undermines the inviolability and neutrality of UNRWA premises,” UNRWA said.
“These actions also stand to compromise the safe return of children to their schools, and scuttles the Agency efforts to open the schools on time,” it added.
Israeli Minister Details Plans For Rocket-Proof Protection In Northern Israeli Homes
Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster met with the heads of local councils in the country’s north and provided details about plans to install rocket-proof protection in homes near the Lebanon border.
The initiative came after rocket attacks launched by Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon last week threatened towns in northern Israel.
Under the Defense Ministry’s plan, dubbed “Defender of the North,” work will begin next month in eight communities located up to one kilometer (.6 of a mile) from the border to fortify homes.
Schuster was accompanied at the meeting by the head of the Shielding Department in the Israel Defense Forces Home front Command, Col. Yaniv Wolfer, and visited a number of locations in the Upper Galilee, including Moshav Yuval, where the first homes will receive the added protection.
The program will be led by the Defense Ministry and the IDF Home Front Command. It will receive $77.5 million of funding for 2021-22 and $155 million from the 2023 defense budget.
Schuster said as a result of “the conclusion and approval of the defense budget under the leadership of Defense Minister Benny Gantz, we are ensuring the implementation of the ‘Defender of the North’ program.” The program was approved by the political-security cabinet in 2018.
Schuster added that bolstering homes in the north will form a “critical issue in the home front and the civilian resilience in the next conflict.”