By Ari Yashar
As world powers and Iran reach a deadline Tuesday – which may be extended – for talks on the Islamic regime’s nuclear program, Israel is taking steps to prepare for a military strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities so as to defend itself from the impending threat.
Iran has refused to allow inspections of its covert nuclear sites and declared it will use advanced centrifuges as soon as a deal is met, meaning the leading state sponsor of terrorism could potentially obtain a nuclear arsenal within weeks, all while getting billions of dollars in sanctions relief through a nuclear deal.
The Hebrew-language Walla! reported Tuesday that it has learned from a foreign source that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot has appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan to head a special team tasked with examining the military options against Iran.
The team would explore what kind of striking options are available to Israel after a deal with Iran is signed.
By appointing such a senior IDF official to the team, it is estimated that Israel is considering the signing of a deal to be a game changer which would require a serious reevaluation of the regional situation, and likely necessitate military action against Iran.
Sources close to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) say there is a pressing need to present a powerful military option against Iran, a reality which is being used to demand that the defense budget not be reduced by the Knesset.
For over 15 years the IDF has been examining the possibility of military action against Iran’s ever burgeoning nuclear program, and the majority of the funding for such preparedness has gone to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the IDF’s intelligence branch.
“Iran is lying – what do we do?”
A source close to Ya’alon was quoted by Walla! saying, “nothing has changed regarding the military option. Our working assumption is that Iran is lying all the time, beyond the fact that it is funding and directing terror in the Middle East. It (Iran) is our most bitter enemy today, even though we don’t share a physical border with it, and we must not put off any kind of preparedness against it.”
“In the end we don’t believe Iran. We don’t believe the (nuclear) project will be stopped. Therefore the (military) option will remain. …We need to be ready also for the day in which Israel will need to make decisions alone. (What) if it becomes clear they are pushing the envelope in breach of the agreement? Or if Iran goes down deep underground (with its nuclear facilities)? And if new sites are found? Will we wait for the US to take care of them?”
“You have to prepare yourself for all of the threats. Not only for Gaza and Lebanon,” added the source. “The military option costs money but the more time goes by, you’re better prepared to carry out the mission.”
Indicating Israel’s growing preparedness ahead of a potential military clash with Iran, the IAF held a special drill with the Greek air force two months ago, in which roughly 100 members of the IAF took part including dozens of crews from all the F-16i squadrons.
The unusual drill had IAF pilots operating in unfamiliar territory for a night and the following day, and included simulations of strikes and dogfights involving dozens of fighter jets.
Most importantly, in the drill the Greek army reportedly deployed advanced anti-missile defense systems similar to the Russian S-300 that Moscow sold to Iran and has yet to ship. The advanced S-300 system is considered to be a major challenge in carrying out an airstrike in that it can shoot down rockets as well as jets.
When Grammy Award-winning German DJ Paul van Dyk tapped DJs from around the world for his latest album, he called it “The Politics of Dancing 3″ to show the unifying power of dance music.
But Arab countries apparently aren’t interested in unifying around music – his album is unavailable in much of the Arab world, apparently due to his inclusion of Israeli DJs.
“It’s quite strange that the political situation in some corners of this planet forbid this album from being released,” van Dyk told AFP before a recent club set in New York.
“It’s almost surreal, and it’s disappointing. I really thought we had progressed further than that already,” he said.
“The statement was very clear – this music brings people together, regardless of what God they believe in, or what religion they follow, or what citizenship they have.”
The German DJ, who is considered one of the founders of trance music, said he had been told that his album was unavailable in a number of Arab countries, apparently due to the inclusion of Israelis Michael Tsukerman and the duo Las Salinas.
AFP reporters in Egypt and Lebanon confirmed that searches locally on iTunes for “The Politics of Dancing 3″ turned up no results.
The album, however, was accessible to iTunes users whose accounts were registered in Western countries. The album is available in Israel.
Officials did not comment on decisions on the album. Boycotts of Israeli products including cultural products are widespread in the Arab world, in an economic attack against the Jewish state.
Van Dyk brought in numerous established and up-and-coming DJs for “The Politics of Dancing 3,” including several from the Arab world such as Egyptian duo Aly and Fila.
Frequent visitor to the Middle East
The controversy surprised van Dyk, who enjoys an Arab fan base and has played in the past year in Beirut, Doha, Dubai and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Van Dyk is hardly known for loaded lyricism. The track with Tsukerman has only one line, which is repeated over a club-packing beat: “If we only look back then we never know what we’re living for.”
“If I had some bad lyrics on there, or something that doesn’t qualify for a young audience or whatever – stuff like that I understand,” van Dyk said.
Van Dyk released the first “The Politics of Dancing” in 2001, with the title meant to celebrate youth culture amid a crackdown on clubs under New York’s then mayor Rudy Giuliani, who campaigned aggressively on law-and-order.
Van Dyk said he did not intentionally choose Arab and Israeli artists for “The Politics of Dancing 3″ and instead picked DJs on artistic merit.
But in an earlier interview with AFP released as the album came out in May, van Dyk explained that he has seen dance music transcend political boundaries and recounted how Arab and Israeli friends bonded when they met on the Spanish clubbing island of Ibiza.
Van Dyk, speaking after the apparent ban, said he would not alter the album to sell it in the Arab world.
“I’m not bending down to something I totally dismiss,” he said.
“If there is friction between countries on a political agenda, that happens, sadly enough. But to pull the plug on art?” he asked. “Where is the future if artists cannot work together because of something like this?”
AFP contributed to this report.
· Command responsibility: All four IDF reports of alleged war crimes investigations have assumed that general targeting policy was legal and only individual soldiers could have gone beyond the rules of engagement. The report wants investigations of top military and civilian leaders who set targeting policy. This is a major fault line, but Israel has support from a range of foreign military and top academics for its targeting policy.
· Comptroller got more relevant: The UNHRC probe‘s chairperson Mary McGowan-Davis is following the State Comptroller report on war policy-making to see if it addresses her concerns, not addressed in the IDF reports. That report just got a lot more important.
· Turkel Commission: The report and McGowan-Davis hone in on the lack of implementing ‘Recommendation 2′ of Israel’s quasi-government February 2013 Turkel Report on whether its self-investigating satisfies international law. She totally skipped over its conclusion that Israel’s apparatus meets international law requirements and zoned in on only which of the 18 recommendations made by Turkel to improve investigations have not been implemented. The state has been very slow with addressing some of these and this could be an issue since it was an Israel-sponsored group.
· Gaza blockade: The report repeatedly takes Israel to task for the blockade, though the previous UN Palmer Report said that the blockade did not violate international law. Serious blame for lack of Gaza reconstruction was placed on Israel due to the blockade, seemingly ignoring the blame that many UN officials have placed on donor countries for failing to send most of the funds they promised for reconstruction.
· Accepting ICC jurisdiction: The report demands Israel accede to the Rome Statute and accept International Criminal Court jurisdiction. A non-starter from the Israeli point of view.
· Explosive weapons: Judge McGowan-Davis makes a huge point of attacking Israel for use of explosive weapons in those parts of Gaza which are densely populated. But most of Gaza is densely populated and the IDF has said that Hamas intentionally and systematically abused civilian locations to fire rockets, hide weapons and undertake other attacks. The report does not seem to consider how else the IDF could fight Hamas under these circumstances.
· Defining military objectives – targeting residential buildings: There is a debate about whether the IDF had an overly wide definition of military objective, especially in targeting residential buildings. The report then recognizes that Hamas fought from civilian areas which can convert those areas into military objectives, but perplexingly seemed to say that Hamas’ actions do not modify the legal analysis or obligations for the IDF.
· Warnings: The report unequivocally declares “roof-knocking,” firing a missile without a warhead onto a roof so it will not explode, but will make a loud bang and scare civilians into evacuating before attacking with an armed missile, as ineffective. The Goldstone Report made the same declaration, but whereas there are many international critics of the policy, many foreign military figures and top military law academics have declared the tactic effective, or even cutting-edge and worthy of emulation.
· Israeli investigations of alleged war crimes: McGowan-Davis is highly specific demanding not only investigations, but essentially also indictments, convictions and even sufficiently serious punishments.
· Palestinian investigations of alleged war crimes: McGowan-Davis only demands that there be criminal proceedings with nowhere near the same specificity. This could be a more lenient hand and double-standard, or, in light of her harsh condemnation of Gazan indiscriminate rocket fire, it could be she realizes they have done nothing and nuanced demands only have a chance with Israel.
· IDF release of classified information: The IDF has been complimented by supporters for releasing unprecedented information in its four reports about the military situation on the ground. The report said that too little information has been released and while realizing the IDF may jeopardize its intelligence sources, essentially demands the IDF release far more information. This is a major fault line for judging borderline cases where civilians were killed.
· Proportionality: McGowan-Davis seems to imply that IDF was obligated to completely change targeting policy, including possibly refraining from using missiles and artillery mid-war, after initial casualty reports. This is another major fault line and whereas, she cites one case from an international war crimes tribunal supporting that idea, but there are counter-cases.
· Was Israel’s report of last week referenced: It was unclear whether the report would take into account Israel’s major report released last week. The report did add references to that report, though the reports disagree on a myriad of issues.
Three years after it withdrew its ambassador from Israel, when Operation Pillar of Defense was launched in Gaza, Egypt is about to send a new ambassador to its Tel Aviv embassy.
Hazem Hayrath, 57, who was a senior assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister until recently, was tapped as the new ambassador to Israel and will discharge his duties from the Jewish state.
He will replace the current ambassador, Atef Salem, who was urgently recalled to Cairo in November of 2012, just two months after his appointment, and has since been technically working as Cairo’s Israel ambassador – from Cairo. Salem was recalled by then-president Mohammed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, to protest Israel’s Gaza operation.
The formal changing of the guard is to take place in September.
Following the takeover by General Abdel Fattah a-Sisi in Egypt, Israel appointed a new ambassador to Cairo, Haim Koren. Since then, the countries have been discussing the return of the Egyptian ambassador to Israel.
The Foreign Ministry told Arutz Sheva that it is pleased with the appointment and that it hopes for fruitful cooperation with the new ambassador.
Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, David Roet, lambasted a UN report on children in warfare Thursday, noting that in the context of numerous Islamic wars where thousands of children were murdered this year alone, “it is simply absurd that this report disproportionately focuses on Israel.”
The diplomat spoke at a UN Security Council open debate on a report titled “Children and Armed Conflict.”
Facing a typically hostile United Nations audience, Dep. Rep. Roet bravely spoke truth to power stating: “The reason for this skewed presentation is evident. Instead of being balanced, neutral, and focused on the facts, the report’s discussion of Israel is politicized, stained with interests, and distorts reality.”
Roet then went on to itemize the report’s distortion of reality, by quoting Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum who said, “our rockets are aimed at the Hebrews, the murderers, the Israelis, the criminals. . . our missiles accurately target the home of the Israelis and the Zionists.”
While Israel warns Palestinian civilians to leave affected areas, Roet argued, “Hamas voids international law by launching rockets from schools, hospitals, mosques, and other places children would usually feel safe.”
The diplomat also stated that while Israel “didn’t want” the war, Hamas had launched over 450 missiles against Israel before Israel responded – and that even this only happened after Hamas had fired 60 rockets in one day. Still, Israel did everything to de-escalate, and warned the populace in Gaza by dropping leaflets and sending texts, but again all this was ignored by the UN report.
He stated that these points were absent from the report, not because the UN “simply failed to notice” them. Rather, this was because, in Roet’s words, “The drafting of the report was marked at every level by widespread, systematic and institutionalized biased conduct against Israel.”
Roet gave numerous examples of how the working group, “conveniently forgot to inform Israel of the writing of the report,” and didn’t “seek input from Israeli authorities.”
But it didn’t stop there. The working group “flatly refused” to accept any Israeli evidence and facts. Instead, the working group “welcomed with open arms” information supplied by virulently anti-Israel NGOs.
But perhaps the must serious accusation Dep. Rep. Roet leveled against the UN’s report was its report statement that “the question of intent when determining responsibility will not be a crucial consideration.”
This means, he explained, that even if Israel’s intent is to avoid harming children, using every available method, and Hamas has the specific intent of harming Palestinian children by using them as human shields, the United Nations is redefining international law – for Israel only – in stating that the “intent” doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that Israel harmed a Palestinian child