Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How does each side of the Israel-Hamas conflict treat civilians?

You can learn everything you need to know about the Middle East conflict from this short video by Dennis Prager:

Now Israel is having about 80% of their country targeted by rocket attacks right now, and the attacks are designed to deliberately kill civilians. These are not military strikes designed to avoid civilian casualties, they are terrorist attacks designed to inflict civilian casualties.

Here is an article from leftist CNN that makes the point about Israel, Hamas and civilians.

Excerpt:

Israeli forces dropped leaflets in northern Gaza on Sunday to warn residents to move away from Hamas sites to avoid military strikes.

The warning came as the death toll in Gaza reached 168, with more than 1,100 people injured, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

About 70% of the fatalities were civilians, of which 30% — 27 people — were children, said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which said the figures came from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israel said its forces have struck 1,320 “terror targets” across Gaza, including 735 concealed rocket launchers.

Israel has used its Iron Dome defense system against many of the more than 800 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, the military said. Two more were intercepted Sunday over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

[...]Video on Hamas-run television showed a Hamas spokesman urging people to serve as human shields, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported Thursday.

[...]Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, regularly uses sites and facilities populated by civilians.

“The leadership of Hamas and the other organizations has chosen — at a time when they are using the population of Gaza as human shields — to hide under ground, to flee abroad and to deliberately put civilians in the line of fire,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Cabinet meeting Sunday.

“This is the entire difference between us and Hamas — we are using defensive systems against missiles to protect the residents of Israel, and they are using the residents of Gaza to protect arsenals of missiles. Nothing better underscores the difference in this campaign. Israel is a democracy that is fighting — in a legitimate and focused manner — against unbridled terrorists,” he said.

[...]Throughout the conflict, Israel has warned Gaza residents of upcoming attacks targeting militants and terrorist infrastructure. On Twitter on Sunday, the IDF posted: “To warn civilians of an impending strike, the IDF drops leaflets, makes personalized phone calls & sends SMSes. How many militaries do that?”

“Sirens heard across (Israel). Gaza terrorists are firing barrages of rockets. Israel is under attack,” the IDF posted, with a photo asking “What would you do?”

[...]In leaflets dropped Sunday, the IDF warned residents that it intends “to attack terrorists and terror infrastructures.” The leaflets list areas that will be targeted. “Israel is currently attacking, and will continue to attack, every area from which rockets are being launched at its territory.”

The leaflets told residents which roads were safe to take and gave a time frame. “The IDF is not interested in hurting you or your family members. These operations are limited and short. Whoever does not adhere to these instructions and does not vacate their house immediately is subjecting their lives and the lives of their children and family to danger,” the leaflet said.

The Israeli military said it also drops empty shells on roofs, an operation it calls “roof knocking,” to alert civilians that airstrikes are imminent.

The goal of the airstrikes, the military said, is to get Hamas militants to stop firing rockets into Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel spent a ton of money on the “Iron Dome” missile defense system in order to protect Jewish and Arab residents of Israel.

So, I hope this is enough to explain to people that there is no moral equivalence between Israel and terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. If you are targeting civilians deliberately, you are a terrorist. It’s wrong, and only one side does it. Period.

I also want to point out that I have no religious reason for backing Israel against Hamas and Hezbollah in this conflict. I don’t like Israel’s anti-evangelism laws. But compared to the alternatives, they are the most pro-Western democracy in the area, and that’s why I support them. It’s strictly foreign policy and moral concerns. I am opposed to terrorism and to wage war against it, we need allies in the theater. Israel is always going to be looking out for Israel, not us, but they are a strong ally and we need to be encouraging them for that reason.

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Israel boosts navy with two guided missile destroyers from Germany

Big story from the Jerusalem Post.

Excerpt:

Germany has agreed to sell Israel two destroyers in exchange for one billion euros, AFP reported on Saturday, citing a report in German daily Bild.

According to the report, the torpedo-laden destroyers are intended to provide protection for Israel’s natural gas installations.

I suspect that the primary role of these vessels will be to intercept surface-to-surface missiles and air-to-surface missiles. Israel’s submarine force does not have this capability – they are primarily built for missile strike capability. Now why do you think that Israel is choosing to equip naval vessels with these capabilities? It’s to convey a clear message to her enemies: “even if you are able to strike our mainland and destroy our land-based missile defense system (Iron Dome) we will still have a naval-based air defense capability”.

This is a great deterrent against Israel’s enemies. It’s a second layer of defense to Israel’s Iron Dome system, which is tested and ready to shoot down incoming missiles. In addition to this missile-defense capability, these DDGs also offer surface-to-surface strike capability, but I can’t say what that would be without knowing what model they got. My suspicion is that they are older FFG Bremen class, which are being decommissioned and replaced by newer models. But they could also be FFG Brandenburg class, which are newer, but also scheduled for upgrades already. I wouldn’t call either of those “destroyers” though – they displace only about 3,600 tonnes each.

So could they be these 5,800 tonne vessels?

FFG Saschen class guided missile frigate

F124 Saschen class guided missile frigate (FFG)

Germany doesn’t have any real destroyers, although their new FFG Saschen class are as big as destroyers. If Israel somehow managed to get Saschen class FFGs, then I would really be thrilled and impressed. Those things are awesome and they excel at the air defense role. I noticed that the “file photos” being used in news releases were of FFG Saschen class vessels. But I just can’t believe that, it would be so awesome. That would explain why they are being called “destroyers” in the press stories. One can hope! If anyone knows, please tell me.

UPDATE: I did get some feedback through a friend of a friend who is an expert in missile defense, and here is his response:

Good for Israel. The article is mainly correct. I would say it is wrong on three points. One, Iron Dome will not assist in defending against TBMs or longer range missiles…Israel has other systems for that. Two, the DDGs are not meant to provide BMD if Iron Dome is destroyed. Sea based BMD can allow layered defense against ballistic missiles. Ballistic missiles require multiple interceptors to give a high probability of kill. Three, that being said, none of the Frigates mentioned possess a BMD cape. The Netherlands is working on a BMD cape for a ship they use that is similar to the Saschen class. The Dutch however, have a seafaring history and a navy that is more advanced than the Deutsch.

BMD means Ballistic Missile Defense, and TBM means Tactical Ballistic Missile.

And another SSK Dolphin submarine, too

And more good news from YNet News.

Excerpt:

Earlier this year, a significant deal between Germany and the Israeli security establishment was completed, as the Germans handed a fifth Dolphin-class submarine to Israel. The handover was marked in an official ceremony in Germany’s city of Kiel.

The vessel is considered one of the most advanced submarines in the world and is the most expensive war vessel the Defense Ministry has procured for the IDF. The diesel-powered submarines are widely regarded as an Israeli vanguard against foes like Iran. In total, Israel has purchased six Dolphin submarines from Germany.

There are two kinds of submarines that are used today: attack submarines, which are armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, and ballistic missile submarines, which are armed with heavier missiles that can travel further. Although the SSK Dolphin class is an attack submarine on paper, my suspicion is that Israel will refit them to have long-range missile strike capability, including nuclear guided missiles. And in fact after doing a search, I found an article that confirmed my hopes.

Take a look at this article from NTI, a global security think tank based in Washington.

Excerpt:

As previous conflicts involving Israel began with naval blockades, Israel views its submarine force as critical to national security. Israel’s submarines are also intended to exercise sea control over the Eastern Mediterranean and secure sea lines of communication; Israel is dependent on imports of grain, crude oil, and raw materials. [4] There has been consistent speculation that Israel’s submarines could be refitted to carry missiles armed with nuclear weapons in order for the country to maintain a survivable second-strike option. Acknowledging Israel’s lack of strategic depth, officials have asserted that only submarines can provide a secure weapons platform in the future. [5]

The arming of Israel’s submarines has received a great deal of attention. While HDW has stated that Israel’s Dolphin-class submarines were equipped with weapon systems similar to those installed on other diesel-electric submarines, various sources have alleged that upon their arrival in Israel, the submarines were modified, and fitted with cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads. [6] The three initial Dolphin-class submarines were designed in accordance with Israeli demands, and include a “wet and dry” compartment for special operations, as well as four 650mm torpedo tubes, which could be used for Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs). [7] The German Defense Ministry has stated that these larger tubes were intended to fire Harpoons; upon delivery to Israel, liners were to be fitted to decrease the diameter of the tubes to accommodate the 533mm Harpoon containers. However, the Dolphin-class is equipped with six 533mm torpedo tubes as well, which are capable of launching Harpoons. [8] It seems possible, therefore, that the 650mm tubes might have been designed to accommodate indigenously built, long-range SLCMs.The German government has stated that it does not have information on whether Israel installed different equipment on the submarines after delivery, although former German officials have acknowledged that they assumed that Israel intended to equip the submarines with nuclear weapons. [9]

Some reports suggest that Israel has adapted Harpoon cruise missiles, which have a range of 130 kilometers, to carry an indigenously developed nuclear warhead and guidance system, though other experts argue that such modifications to a Harpoon missile are not feasible. [10] Others believe that Israel has developed an indigenous cruise missile with a range of 320 kilometers that could be a version of Rafael Armament Development Authority’s Popeye turbo cruise missile. [11] Still others believe that the missile may be a version of the Gabriel 4LR produced by Israel Aircraft Industries, which could be launched in 533mm torpedo tubes similar to the Harpoon. [12] Such speculation was further fueled by an unconfirmed test of a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) in the Indian Ocean in 2000. Some reports claimed targets 1,500 kilometers away were hit. [13] Such a range, however, implies an entirely new type of missile. [14] In June 2002, former State Department and Pentagon officials confirmed that the U.S. Navy observed Israeli missile tests in the Indian Ocean in 2000, and that the Dolphin-class vessels have been fitted with nuclear-capable cruise missiles of a new design. [15] However, the Israeli Defense Forces have consistently denied any such missile tests. [16]

[...]The new boats will be equipped with 650mm torpedo tubes—again leading to much speculation that the Israelis intend to outfit the submarines with nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

These submarines are designed to protect Israel’s supply lines in the Mediterranean Sea, and also to give them retaliation capabilities in the event of a large-scale missile strike. Iran and her allies will have a tough time detecting these submarines and destroying them – the subs have an extremely quiet propulsion system and can operate submerged for up to a week. These six submarines are a deterrent against any nation that would try to attack Israel, because they know that there is no hope for them to destroy all of their strike capability in the initial strike against Israel’s land-based assets. Israel could also depend on ground-based missile launchers,some of which might be mobile, and their airborne strike platform.

This is an application of the principal of peace through strength – the stronger a nation’s military, the less likely they are to be attacked, and the more capable they are of protecting their allies. The article above notes that the Clinton administration (Democrats) refused to sell Israel Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a very long range. That’s too bad. If I were in charge, I would sell those to Israel in a split-second.

It really is a terrible thing for the United States to be disarming thanks to Democrat policies, because all this does is encourage our enemies to strike us, and encourage our allies to abandon our alliances and ally with stronger nations. I hope that we are able to elect a Republican soon who will restore our lost military strength.

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Russia to supply Iran with state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile systems

From the Jerusalem Post.

Excerpt:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, according to the prestigious Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that the Russian government will revive the transfer three years after it canceled the original transaction.

According to Kommersant, the Kremlin agreed to Tehran’s request to complete the transaction, which will net the Russian treasury $800 million.

In addition to the missile deal, Russia has also agreed to construct another nuclear reactor in Bushehr. According to the Kommersant report, the two sides are expected to finalize the details of the deal this coming Friday, when Putin is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

[...]The Russian-manufactured anti-aircraft batteries have been a source of concern to Israeli officials who fear that their enemies’ possession of them could have adverse strategic consequences.

The article reports the range of the surface-to-air missile system as 200 km.

The missiles can be used to shoot down incoming missiles or strike aircraft. It would probably make any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear weapons facilities much more dangerous. If the system is supposed to come online in 2016 then that would mean that the Israelis would have to strike before then.

I blogged before about how missile systems sold to Iran made their way to Syria and then to Hezbollah, where they were used to sink an Israeli ship. Could that happen with these S-300 SAMs?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Is Obama promising the Russians more unilateral disarmament after the election?

From CNS News, a conversation that was never meant for the public to hear.

Excerpt:

President Barack Obama told Russia’s leader Monday that he would have more flexibility after the November election to deal with the contentious issue of missile defense, a candid assessment of political reality that was picked up by a microphone without either leader apparently knowing.

Outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he would pass on Obama’s message to his successor, Vladimir Putin, according to an audio recording of comments the two leaders made during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea. Obama and Medvedev did not intend for their comments to be made public.

What kind of promises might Obama be making?

How about something like this:

Thirty-four lawmakers sent a letter to the White House on Thursday in response to news reports that President Obama had ordered his staff to study the option of reducing America’s nuclear deterrent by 80 percent—down to as few as 300 deployed strategic nuclear warheads. The United States currently has a cap of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads under the so-called New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the controversial arms control pact with Russia that passed the Senate in December 2010.

The concerned lawmakers—who are led by Republican Congressmen Buck McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), and Mike Turner of Virginia, head of the HASC’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces—question whether the president is taking into account the full range of threats that face the United States in its allies.  In the letter, they caution against further nuclear cuts given “the growth in quantity and quality of nuclear weapons capabilities in Russia, the People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and, perhaps soon the Islamic Republic of Iran” and “the divestment of U.S. conventional military capabilities under [Obama’s] recently announced defense strategy.”

Or maybe he wants to do more of this:

The Obama administration disclosed on Tuesday that it is considering sharing some classified U.S. data as part of an effort to allay Russian concerns about a controversial antimissile shield.

The administration is continuing negotiations begun under former President George W. Bush on a defense technical cooperation agreement with Moscow that could include limited classified data, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Brad Roberts told a House of Representatives’ Armed Services subcommittee.

He gave no details on the sort of data that might be shared under such an agreement.

Or maybe he would do more of this:

U.S. officials have confirmed to Fox News that images aired by Iranian state television do in fact show the secret U.S. drone that went down last week in eastern Iran.

“Yep, that’s it,” one senior official told Fox News. “And it’s intact.”

U.S. officials had been expecting the video to appear. The footage, which shows the aircraft intact, confirms the Iranians have custody of the drone but appears to refute Iranian claims that it shot down the RQ-170 drone.

With early knowledge that the aircraft had likely remained intact, the senior U.S. official also told Fox News that President Obama was presented with three separate options for retrieving or destroying the drone. The president ultimately decided not to proceed with any of the plans because it could have been seen as an act of war, the official told Fox News.

Among the options the U.S. considered were sending in a special-ops team to retrieve the drone; sending in a team to blow up the aircraft; and launching an airstrike to destroy it.

Or even more of this:

The most senior retired military officer to back President Obama’s run for the White House says the president is making a “real mistake” in terminating F-22 production.

Retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, who was the Air Force chief of staff during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm and who credited air power with winning the war, was the first four-star officer to endorse the one-term senator in his presidential campaign. McPeak traveled with Obama to bolster the candidate’s commander-in-chief credentials, much to the chagrin of the general’s fighter pilot colleagues.

But now McPeak is breaking with Obama on the president’s most contentious defense budget decision: ending production of the Air Force’s top-line fighter at 187 aircraft.

“I think it’s a real mistake,” McPeak told FOXNews.com. “The airplane is a game-changer and people seem to forget that we haven’t had any of our soldiers or Marines killed by enemy air since 1951 or something like that. It’s been half a century or more since any enemy aircraft has killed one of guys. So we’ve gotten use to this idea that we never have to breathe hostile air.”

McPeak’s comments come as Obama is in the throes of a major battle with Democrats and Republicans who have voted in committee to fund seven more F-22s.

Obama sent a letter to Congress Monday with a blunt warning.

“I will veto any bill that supports acquisition of F-22s beyond the 187 already funded by Congress,” Obama wrote. “To continue to procure additional F-22s would be to waste valuable resources that should be more usefully employed to provide our troops with the weapons that they actually do need.”

Worst. President. Ever. Unless you are an enemy of the United States, in which case he’s the best president ever!

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Former DEA chief warns of cooperation between Hezbollah and drug cartels

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

The Iranian-supported Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah has spread its influence all the way to the U.S. border with Mexico, a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere heard on Thursday.

Michael Braun, a former chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency, said Hezbollah had developed relationships with the powerful Mexican drug cartels to “move their agenda forward.” He cited a plot, recently uncovered by the DEA, involving an Iranian operative in Mexico allegedly planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C.

“Hezbollah are absolute masters at forming close relationships with existing organized crime groups around the world that helps them facilitate what they need to do to move their agendas forward,” Braun told CNSNews.com following the hearing. “And if anyone thinks for a moment that they don’t have their eye on the southwest border and all of our country, then they couldn’t be more wrong.”

In his prepared remarks Braun, who also served as interim director of the Department of Justice’s Drug Intelligence Fusion Center, said Hezbollah and other terrorist groups understand that the Mexican cartels are already operating successfully inside the United States.

“If anyone thinks for one moment that these terrorist organizations do not understand that the Mexican drug trafficking cartels now dominate drug trafficking in our country – reportedly in more than 250 cities – than they are very stupid or very naive,” he said.

“And these groups most assuredly recognize the strategic value of exploiting that activity, and all that has been built to support it, for moving their vision forward in this part of the world.”

This is disturbing particularly given the news of Iran’s new Spanish-language TV channel in Venezuela.

Iran and Hezbollah

The Washington Times reports on arms sales from China to Iran.

Excerpt:

China is continuing to provide advanced missiles and other conventional arms to Iran and may be doing so in violation of U.N. sanctions against the Tehran regime, according to a draft report by the congressional U.S.-China Commission. “China continues to provide Iran with what could be considered advanced conventional weapons,” the report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission says. According to the report, which will be made public Nov. 16, China sold $312 million worth of arms to Iran, second only to Russia, after Congress passed the Iran Freedom Support Act in 2006 that allows the U.S. government to sanction foreign companies that provide advanced arms to Iran. The report also noted that, after Russia began cutting back arms transfers to Iran in 2008, China became the largest arms supplier to the Iranian military. Most of the weapons transfers involved sales of Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles, including C-802 missiles that China promised the United States in 1997 would not be exported to Iran. China also built an entire missile plant in Iran last year to produce the Nasr-1 anti-ship cruise missile.

The Nasr-1 has a range of 19 miles. The C-802 has a range of 75 miles. That means that the C-802 has about the same range as a Harpoon SSM. Not good. I am not worried about the Nasr-1, but the C-802 is a problem. These weapons could be used by terrorists to attack allied naval vessels. In fact, the New York Times reported that Hezbollah, a terrorist group linked to Iran,used the C-802 missile to sink an Israeli Saar 5 corvette back in 2006.

Excerpt:

The power and sophistication of the missile and rocket arsenal that Hezbollah has used in recent days has caught the United States and Israel off guard, and officials in both countries are just now learning the extent to which the militant group has succeeded in getting weapons from Iran and Syria.

While the Bush administration has stated that cracking down on weapons proliferation is one of its top priorities, the arming of Hezbollah shows the blind spots of American and other Western intelligence services in assessing the threat, officials from across those governments said.

American and Israeli officials said the successful attack last Friday on an Israeli naval vessel was the strongest evidence to date of direct support by Iran to Hezbollah. The attack was carried out with a sophisticated antiship cruise missile, the C-802, an Iranian-made variant of the Chinese Silkworm, an American intelligence official said.

At the same time, American and Israeli officials cautioned that they had found no evidence that Iranian operatives working in Lebanon launched the antiship missile themselves.

But neither Jerusalem nor Washington had any idea that Hezbollah had such a missile in its arsenal, the officials said, adding that the Israeli ship had not even activated its missile defense system because intelligence assessments had not identified a threat from such a radar-guided cruise missile.

[...]Officials said it was likely that Iran trained Hezbollah fighters on how to successfully fire and guide the missiles, and that members of Iran’s Al Quds force — the faction of the Revolutionary Guards that trains foreign forces — would not necessarily have to be on the scene to launch the C-802.

At the same time, some experts said Iran was not likely to deploy such a sophisticated weapon without also sending Revolutionary Guard crews with the expertise to fire the missile.

Note that this is the same Quds force that likely trained Iraqi terrorists in the use of IEDs and is suspected of being involved with the recent attack on the Saudi ambassador on American soil.

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