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topDecember 2012


Operation Pillar of Defense     Missile Defense


U.S.-Israel Cooperation     Egypt Watch     Levant Watch


Turkey Watch     Iran Watch     Gulf Watch


Old and New Allies     Odds and Ends 

pillarOperation Pillar of Defense  


Responding to increasing rocket fire from Gaza, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, a one-week aerial operation intended to decimate Hamas' growing long-range rocket arsenal and restore Israeli deterrence. From November 14 until an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire was accepted on November 21, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel, including longer-range, Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles that reached for the first time the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas. In response, the Israel Air Force carried out some 1,500 strikes on terror sites including rocket launchers, weapons smuggling tunnels, weapons storage sites, and senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, such Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing in Gaza. Six Israelis, four civilians and two soldiers, were killed and several hundred injured by Palestinian rocket fire. The final day of the conflict also saw a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded ten Israelis. Iron Dome, Israel's short-range anti-missile system, garnered international acclaim as it intercepted 421 rockets aimed at Israeli populated areas garnering a success rate greater than 80 percent. Not one rocket has been fired from Gaza since the ceasefire, Israel's longest period of quiet in nearly four years.


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missileMissile Defense


Iron Dome Iron Dome's performance during Operation Pillar of Defense was an unmitigated success. Of the more than 1,500 rockets fired at Israel, only 58 struck urban areas-a 4 percent success rate largely attributed to Iron Dome's ability to intercept 421 missiles headed for populated areas. During the conflict, the IDF rushed a new, Block-2 Iron Dome battery to the Gush Dan region, deploying this 5th battery two months ahead of schedule. As a result, Iron Dome's performance has interested potential foreign buyers, such as South Korea and India


In addition to the $275 million the United States has already granted to assist the Government of Israel in purchasing Iron Dome batteries, Congress is currently in the final stages of approving even more funding. The House of Representatives has approved an additional $610 million over three years whereas the Senate has approved an additional $210 million for 2013 only. The final number will be known after the two bodies conference. Meanwhile, Israel announced that it was ready to share Iron Dome's technology with the United States.


During Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel also tested David's Sling, a U.S.-Israel missile defense system. Also known as Magic Wand, the system successfully intercepted a dummy missile and will likely be operational in 2014. Developed jointly by Rafael and Raytheon, David's Sling can intercept missiles with ranges of up to 180 miles.


After a postponement from September, Israel will also soon complete an interceptor launch test of the Arrow 3, its upper-tier missile defense system co-developed with the United States. The Arrow 3, a cooperative program between Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries, is designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles outside the earth's atmosphere and is scheduled to be operational in 2016.


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usisraelU.S.-Israel Cooperation

Barak_Panetta During a trip to the U.S. in anticipation of his retirement from Israeli politics, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was awarded the Department of Defense's Distinguished Public Service Award by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Barak, a former prime minister, IDF Chief of Staff, and Israel's most decorated soldier, has led the Ministry of Defense for the past five years. 


The United States is selling Israel $647 million worth of precision-guided munitions, including JDAMs and Small Diameter Bombs. Although many have viewed the sale with an eye towards Iran, the IAF recently expended several thousand such bombs in Gaza.


Israel has again been excluded from a ministerial-level meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) that is being held in the U.A.E. Following its exclusion in previous meetings, the Obama administration had pledged to include Israel, but has not overcome the objections of other members, principally Turkey.


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egyptEgypt Watch


During last month's Gaza conflict, several rockets fired from Egypt also landed in Israel. The incidents did not cause casualties, but underscored the delicate security situation along Israel's Sinai border.


As part of the ceasefire ending Operation Pillar of Defense, Egypt also committed itself to stopping the flow of long-range missiles into Gaza from its territory. Shortly afterwards, Egyptian state security forces seized several large shipments of arms from Libya en route to Gaza.


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levantLevant Watch


Lebanon Violence The civil war in Syria continues unabated with increasing regional repercussions. IDF patrols returned fire along the Syrian border after being on the receiving end of several stray bullets and mortar fire in mid-November and again in early December. Sectarian clashes in northern Lebanon killed 17 people and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), stationed in the Golan Heights since 1974, announced that it would bring in armor to reinforce its security. Japan also announced that it would withdraw its UNDOF contingent of 47 troops as a result of the spiraling violence. The United States formally designated the Al Nusra Front, a jihadi Syrian rebel group, as a foreign terrorist organization linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.


Amid reports that the Assad regime was moving and preparing to use its chemical weapons, the Obama administration again warned that their use would constitute a "red line" that would be met with severe consequences. Israel also warned Assad against the transfer of Syrian WMD to Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the IDF began distributing anti-convulsant drugs to all combat medics in case the Assad regime uses VX or Sarin nerve gas against anti-government forces.  


In the midst of the Gaza conflict, the Lebanese Army discovered and dismantled two timer-equipped Katyusha rocket launchers less than 2.5 miles from the Israeli border. During the 2008-2009 Gaza War, several rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel.


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turkeyTurkey Watch  


NATO approved the deployment of six Patriot anti-missile batteries to Turkey, two each from the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands, as a defensive measure to protect Turkey from possible Syrian missile attacks. The deployment early next year will mark the third time Patriots have been deployed to Turkey in the last 20 years and will likely involve a force deployment of more than 1,000 troops to operate them.


Turkey announced a $7 billion procurement program to build up to eight frigates that would be completed by 2023. Turkey also agreed to sell 10 Anka UAVs to Egypt with deliveries expected in 2015.


A Turkish newspaper reported that Israel's Elta Systems had resumed the production of electronic measuring equipment systems for four Turkish Boeing military aircraft.


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 iranIran Watch   


Iran showcased several new military ships, including a frigate-sized warship and two Ghadir-class submarines. It also introduced its first two domestically produced military helicopters into service. Meanwhile, on the heels of several publicized visits by Iranian warships to Port Sudan, a Sudanese newspaper reported that Iran was establishing a Red Sea naval base in Sudan.


According to several Asian newspapers, Iranian defense officials have been stationed in North Korea for the past several months in anticipation of Pyongyang's recent missile test launch.

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gulfGulf Watch 


Lloyd Austin
Gen. Lloyd Austin

The Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Gen. Lloyd Austin, III, has been nominated to lead U.S. Central Command, which oversees much of the Middle East. In a visit to Kuwait, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta vowed that the United States would retain a strong presence in the Persian Gulf despite the strategic pivot to Asia. The U.S. Navy has also extended the deployment of two of its mine countermeasure ships near the Persian Gulf; four are permanently stationed and additional four were temporarily deployed in June.


A year after the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq, the two governments reached an agreement detailing counterterrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing, and military exchanges. The agreement follows the Iraqi release, against U.S. wishes, of Hezbollah operative Ali Musa Daqduq, who has been accused of organizing a January 2007 raid in Karbala that killed five American soldiers. He was the last detainee handed over to Iraq before the U.S. withdrawal.


The U.S. Navy put out a contract tender for 25 light observation aircraft to be sold to Yemen, as part of its ongoing counterterrorism efforts.


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oldnewOld and New Allies 


The director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense visited India in early December. The two countries are discussing joint weapon development and the possible sale of Israeli missile defense systems.


Israel's Elbit systems delivered the Command and Staff Trainer (CST) system to the Royal Netherlands Army for use during training programs.


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oddsendsOdds and Ends  

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