Jerusalem – In the Sriharikota Space Center in India, plans are being completed for the launch of the Israeli Techstar satellite. The expectations of Techstar, which is considered Israel’s most progressive spy satellite, are already sky-high.
Techstar will be able to track Iran’s nuclear compounds and Syria’s rocket bases 24 hours a day, almost without limitations. Unlike existing spy satellites, Techstar is expected to supply a sharp and clear intelligence picture even when the tracking target is in the darkness of night or hidden behind cloud cover. “This is the best tracking tool that exists today,” a security establishment official said yesterday.
The four spy satellites that now serve Israel – Ofek 5, Ofek 7 and the two Eros satellites – are equipped only with cameras that have difficulty taking high-quality pictures at night or when the target is under clouds. Techstar relies on special radar that allows it to “see” in any situation. The radar system, with its synthetic aperture, was developed by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries, which built Techstar.
First Time In Six Years: An Israeli PM To Visit Palestinian City
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is slated to meet late today in Jericho with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Only two weeks after Olmert promised Abbas to remove from Israel’s wanted list at least 178 Fatah fugitives under the command of Abbas, Israeli security sources now believe that it is impossible to carry out this gesture in the foreseeable future.
The reason: Abbas either does not or cannot enforce his authority over the
wanted men to persuade them to meet the conditions that Israel posed.
To ensure that these wanted men do not return to terror activity, Olmert had demanded that they must hand over their weapons to the PA, promise not to commit terror attacks and stay in facilities of the Palestinian security organizations for a trial period of three months.
However, it turns out that fewer than 100 of the 178 Fatah fugitives are willing to remain under “house arrest” in PA facilities. Some of them refused to stay such a long time in one place out of fear that Israel will break its promise and kill them.
Collecting weapons from these wanted men has also encountered difficulties. The PA agreed to pay them between $5,000 and $9,000 for each automatic rifle. Some of the wanted men who hold a variety of guns are demanding huge sums for all their weapons. And that’s not all. From the moment the rumor spread that money could be made, dozens of Palestinians showed up at PA offices claiming that they too were “wanted men” and tried to sell their guns. The PA relayed their names to Israel, but their names were not in the Israeli database.
The attempt to recruit wanted men into the official PA security organizations has also been met with challenges. The fugitives are demanding that the gangs to which they belong not be dismantled but integrated, as an independent body, into the security organizations. The men would be given guns, uniforms, vehicles and salaries from the PA but would continue to do whatever they pleased without anybody’s being able to enforce their authority over them.
Now Israel will have to decide how to handle this gesture: wait for the three month trial period to be up or renew its pursuit for the wanted men who don’t meet the conditions.
Despite all of this, the United States has granted $80 million for the rehabilitation of Abbas’ security agencies. This was announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited Ramallah last Thursday.
Syrian Army Training For Guerrilla Warfare
Israeli intelligence has discerned a new threat from the north: The Syrian army now trains in a Hezbollah format, which includes Katyusha rockets. This may be the first time in modern warfare that a regular army trains its regular forces to operate in a guerrilla framework.
Until now the Syrians have placed their hopes on a large deployment of rockets, which they have manufactured themselves, with a range of 45-70 kilometers and on Scud missiles that can reach any point in Israel.
The Syrian decision to obtain thousands of Katyushas, which is viewed as a much more dated weapon (it was already in use by the Soviets in World War II), was adopted in the wake of the lessons the Syrians learned from the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
Syria concluded that the Israel Air Force did very well against the medium- and long-range rockets, because each rocket requires a large launcher, which were attacked by Israeli planes. By contrast, the Israelis often could not locate Katyusha rockets, because their launchers are small and mobile.
In Israel’s security establishment, there is disagreement over whether the Syrian preparations are for the purpose of launching an attack or are out of fear that Israel will launch one. One way or the other, Syria’s decision to adopt the Hezbollah model and train in guerrilla warfare has increased the concern in the IDF.
Tomato Gun For Sderot?
For over seven years, residents of Sderot, in Israel’s southern region, have waited for a solution to stop the Kassam rocket fire at the western Negev and restore quiet to their lives. Indeed, 10 Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza at Sderot and the western Negev region over the weekend in Israel.
Most recently, a group of young people from Tel Aviv arrived to help the people of Sderot. In recent weeks, two Tel Aviv residents in their twenties, Yigal Tzur and Yaron Ben-Nun along with friends, came to Sderot. They drove to the Nebi Mirai parking lot that overlooks the Gaza Strip with the intent of shelling the Gaza Strip with tomatoes and eggs. They brought their guns out of the car and began a massive bombardment.
“In response to the government’s inaction, we decided to take matters into our hands and to respond,” Tzur explained. “We came here to shell Beit Hanoun with tomatoes and eggs, because there is nothing more humiliating than this. The biggest insult is to have eggs and tomatoes thrown at you.”
Ben Nun said, “You can stand by and whine like we do all year, you can continue to do nothing like the government, or you can solve the problem in creative ways – like we are doing today.”
The gun is built from sewage pipes that they found in the streets. The pipe gets an electric spark from a battery and from a simple alcohol lighter. The quick burning of the alcohol creates the propulsion and propel the eggs and tomatoes. The eggs and tomatoes were covered in liquid soap to make them smoother in flight and give them a longer range. In addition, a vacuum cleaner was attached so that after they fire, it vacuums the alcohol fumes so as to prevent a jam in the next fire. “It works just like satellite fuel,” Tzur explained. “Last week, we tried it out for this first time in the garden and it worked amazingly. Over time it will only get better.” “We invested NIS 1,000 in building the gun, and we promise to improve it and come back again and again.”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007