Thursday, February 24, 2011

Israel reacts to Iran warhips (latest updates)

Iranian warship passing through Suez on Tuesday (Twitter)

Times are Jerusalem/Cairo (GMT+2)

Thursday 12:30: Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi via Tomer Devorah:
The Iranian ships are not coming for no reason. They're ocming to check if, in truth, Tzahal is strong and alert like it's told about Tzahal in the world. They want to see the strength and response of Tzahal.

Thursday 9:30: Barak to CNN
If they (Iranians) were bringing rockets or explosives or weapons to Hamas or Hezbollah we would have probably acted against them, but they are just coming – with weapons on them – but they are coming with navy cadets to visit a Syrian port; it's a way of projecting not power but self-confidence and certain assertiveness in the region.

Wednesday 23:00 Iranian warships have reached Syria. The Iranian Navy Commander is also scheduled to arrive in Syria.

Wednesday 2:30 According to the WSJ, Israeli media said the navy would track the Iranian ships but not confront them as they moved north.

Iran's official news channel quoted the deputy commander of the army: "The world should know that the presence of Iranian warships in the Suez Canal has taken place…through the deep guidance of the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]"

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said: "It certainly doesn't bode well," and: "These two ships are not an immediate threat."

Wednesday 0:30  According to UPI, Israel's announcement on Tuesday that it successfully tested its Arrow anti-ballistic weapon may have been intended a timely demonstration of its military might as Iranian warships deploy in the Mediterranean.

19:00 Tuesday Canal officials have reported that the two warships finished their journey through the Suez Canal at 16:00 today and are now in the Mediterranean.

12:00 Tuesday The NYT reports that the passage of two Iranian warships towards the Mediterranean were greeted by an initial silence in Jerusalem (perhaps that's because some things are best kept from the press, i.e. the NYT, until they go down?) The NYT reports that an Barak aide reiterated today what Barak's comments in  interview with Fox News last week, namely that the events should not be blown out of proportion: 
We see it [the passage of the Iranian ships through Suez] as something that shouldn't have happened, but if it's happened we shouldn't blow it up beyond it's real weight. And probably they stopped. The last report is that they stopped before entering the canal probably didn't get the approvals and probably they will come back in few days.
 While reading the activist journalism of the NYT, keep in mind:
(1) These comments were made last week, before Egypt actually let the warships through for the first time in 32 years 
(2) The NYT, like the Barak aide, have an interest in playing down this event, simply because they are stuck in Israeli apologetics
3) Both the NYT and Barak's team are politically motivated, each for their own reasons, in sidelining Lieberman, a hawkish figure on the Israeli political scene (read: the only person in the government who states things as they are to the world, and leaves kissing-up to all the others), who alluded last week to a possible Israeli strike.
If Barak lets these ships through, it could be a setback for Israel, from the perspective of regional power dynamics (in a sense, this is even more the case after Lieberman said what he said). And in the Middle East, unfortunately, many events hinge on a perceived weakening (or strengthening) of Israel.

5:45 Tuesday According to BBC, canal officials have reported that two Iranian warships have entered the Suez Canal to make a passage to the Mediterranean Sea.They entered the canal at 5:45am Jerusalem/Cairo time (0345 GMT).

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