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topApril 2013 


usisraelU.S.-Israel Cooperation


Obama in Israel President Obama made his long-awaited visit to Israel last month, his first visit to the region in nearly four years. During the visit, he reaffirmed the strong and historical ties between the U.S. and Israel, despite differences over how to handle both the Iranian nuclear program and the Palestinian issue. He also announced support for a new, 10-year military aid package for Israel, set to begin in 2017, and assured that U.S. funding for Iron Dome would not be interrupted. 


Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will also visit Israel later this month, in only his second trip in office after a visit to Afghanistan.


Two weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry made his first official visit to Israel since assuming office. Over the last month, he has already been to Jerusalem three times as he attempts to jump-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


Despite concerns due to sequestration and political gridlock, late last month President Obama signed into law H.R. 933, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, fully funding all Israeli missile defense programs for the remainder of the year to the tune of nearly $480 million. The Act provides $211 million for Iron Dome as well as $150 million for David's Sling, $44 million for Arrow 2, and $75 million for Arrow 3, which are U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs.


In the coming months, Israel will receive the first batch of 2,400 refurbished U.S. Humvees as part of an excess defense articles agreement. Israel is awaiting Pentagon approval of a similar deal for excess U.S. Army trucks.


Admiral James Stravidis visited Israel last week, in his last trip as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe. 


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 gazaGaza Watch


The ceasefire in place since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense is increasingly unraveling. 14 rockets were fired at Israel during March as well as several more so far this month. As a result, Israel has reduced the permitted fishing range off the Gaza coast, which had been expanded as a condition of the ceasefire.


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missileMissile Defense 

A fifth Iron Dome battery, which was rushed into action during the November operation, was declared fully operational.


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egyptEgypt Watch


Egyptian security forces discovered a large weapons cache, including anti-tank mines, in a Sinai border town. The Egyptian Navy also reportedly captured an Iranian vessel, bearing 60,000 rifles and RPG launchers, off the southern Sinai coast. Iran has long smuggled weapons through Sudan and Egypt into Gaza.


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oldnewOld and New Allies


Later this month, Israel and Cyprus will conduct joint naval exercises focusing on the defense of offshore gas fields and facilities.


Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has won a contract worth $250 million to $400 million for the conversion of three Boeing 767-300ER jetliners into military, multi-mission tanker and transport aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force. There is an option for additional conversions. IAI has done similar conversions for the Colombian Air Force in the past.


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gulfGulf Watch   


Next month, the U.S. Fifth Fleet will host a three-week, 30-nation military exercise known as the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX 13) near the Persian Gulf. Building off last year's exercise, IMCMEX 13 will consist of defensive operations designed to protect international commerce, including mine countermeasures, maritime security operations, and maritime infrastructure protection. Iran has vowed, at various times, to mine the Strait of Hormuz and attack U.S. and Gulf Arab facilities.


With an eye on Iran, the U.S. Navy publicly announced that it was outfitting the amphibious assault ship USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf with a laser weapon system designed to destroy small attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles. The system, still in its experimental phase, uses directed energy to disable sensors or burn holes in fast-moving vehicles at limited range.


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technologyTechnology Watch   


As gas from the first of Israel's recently discovered offshore fields came online this month, the Israeli navy is looking to expand its capabilities in order to defend the country's newest strategic asset. While no major acquisitions have been announced, it is hoping to acquire four 1,200-ton warships with defensive missile systems. Several senior navy officials have suggested $700 Tomcar million is needed to develop and an additional annual $100 million is needed to maintain a suitable defense of the offshore fields and facilities.


Israel has deployed 10 unmanned off-road vehicles in a technological first. The modified version of the Israeli-made Tomcar off-road vehicle is being used for border patrols. 


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levantLevant Watch  


Fighting in Syria continued to spill over into the Israeli Golan. In separate incidents late last month, mortar and machine-gun fire were directed at IDF positions. New Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has instituted a "no tolerance" approach to the increased fire, noting that Israel would respond to the source of the fire whether it was intentional or not. Consequently, in late March, the IDF fired a Tamuz anti-tank guided missile at a Syrian military post and, earlier this month, fired tank shells at an outpost.


The Syrian civil war has also greatly affected Lebanon. Fierce clashes broke out in Tripoli between pro- and anti-Assad gunmen. Syrian jets also bombed Lebanese territory in both March and April.


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cyberCyber Watch 


Mouse Israel, already one of the world leaders in cyber security, is continuously enhancing its cyberdefense training, developing courses for high school students who will eventually join the IDF cyberdefense units. Over a year ago, Israel inaugurated its National Cyber Bureau, which recently proved vital in overcoming massive cyberattack campaign against Israeli government websites by the Anonymous group.


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turkeyTurkey Watch 


Turkey is taking steps to establish a space command over the next decade, in time for the Turkish Republic's centennial celebration. The air force is establishing a Space Group Command whose responsibilities will include reconnaissance, early warning, and satellite command.


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oddsendsOdds and Ends  

  • As a result of the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the Pentagon has approved the formation of a Marine crisis response force for North Africa with air transport and combat capabilities. The 500-man force will be able to arrive at the crisis point within 12 hours of being ordered and will have six V-22 Osprey aircraft. While the force is currently based in North Carolina, the U.S. is in negotiations with several southern European governments to forward base it.
  • Libya intends to spend $4.7 billion next year as it tackles a host of security challenges, both internal and external.
  • In a move to free up $14 billion worth Tel Aviv real estate over the long-term, the IDF announced plans to transfer some of its major facilities, such as the Sde Dov airport, the Tel Hashomer base, and parts of the IDF Headquarters, the Kirya, in central Tel Aviv, to the Negev over the next decade.
  • Ya'alon Israel's new government, inaugurated last month, features a new defense minister, former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon. A former member of Israel's elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, Ya'alon is a Likud politician and was Minister of Strategic Affairs in the previous government. His predecessor, Ehud Barak, was Israel's longest service defense minister since Moshe Dayan four decades ago.

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Security Digest newsletter is a monthly bulletin covering U.S.-Israel security cooperation. Distributed by e-mail, Security Digest is edited by JINSA Visiting Fellow Gabriel Scheinmann. Look for Security Digest every month in your e-mail inbox. To give us feedback, simply reply to this email.
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