The Day In Israel: Sunday Feb 21st, 2010

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Britian’s Sunday Times seems to have it all worked out.

In early January two black Audi A6 limousines drove up to the main gate of a building on a small hill in the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv: the headquarters of Mossad, the Israeli secret intelligence agency, known as the “midrasha”.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, stepped out of his car and was greeted by Meir Dagan, the 64-year-old head of the agency. Dagan, who has walked with a stick since he was injured in action as a young man, led Netanyahu and a general to a briefing room.

According to sources with knowledge of Mossad, inside the briefing room were some members of a hit squad. As the man who gives final authorisation for such operations, Netanyahu was briefed on plans to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a member of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza.

Mossad had received intelligence that Mabhouh was planning a trip to Dubai and they were preparing an operation to assassinate him there, off-guard in a luxury hotel. The team had already rehearsed, using a hotel in Tel Aviv as a training ground without alerting its owners.

The mission was not regarded as unduly complicated or risky, and Netanyahu gave his authorisation, in effect signing Mabhouh’s death warrant.

Typically on such occasions, the prime minister intones: “The people of Israel trust you. Good luck.”

My first response to this report was “Wow, that is a lot of detail, especially considering it is coming from sources with mere knowledge only of the Mossad.” Then I looked at the reporter’s name – Uzi Mahnaimi.

Nuff said.



Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

6:40PM: More on today’s new UAV unveiling ceremony, some of which was livestreamed here.

The Israel Air Force on Sunday introduced a fleet of large unmanned planes it claims can fly as far as Iran.

Air force officials said the Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 26 meters, making them the size of passenger jets. They said the planes can fly 20 consecutive hours, and are primarily used for surveillance and carrying payloads.

The drones, built by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, were first used during Israel’s Gaza war last year.

At an inauguration ceremony Sunday, officials refused to say how large the new fleet is or whether the planes were designed for use against Iran.

6:22PM: Ever wondered what a “martyr” being greeted by 72 virgins looks like?

Ever wondered what happens to a female palestinian when she is “martyred”?

Thanks to Fatah, we need wonder no more!

5:25PM: From the Department of Unfortunate Names (taken from the Ha’aretz site earlier today).

2:35PM; The livestream is up and running.

2:00PM: From Brian of London, over 30 mins ago:

Just got on base for the UAV demonstration. Not sure if I can stream. Waiting for confirmation

It’s not looking good.

1:00PM: Remember to check out our special live coverage of the demonstration of Israeli’s newest Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV), set to start in about 15 minutes, courtesy of special Israellycool correspondent Brian of London.

12:55PM: A man hurled a makeshift bomb at Cairo’s main downtown synagogue this morning, but luckily his throwing skills would not even get him in to an Egyptian cricket team (Yes, apparently they do play cricket in Egypt).

In other news, there is no anti-Semitism in the Arab world.

6:15AM: It seems I am not the only one who noticed the IAEA finally seems to have become honest now that Mohamed ElBaradei is no longer in charge.

Israel praised an International Atomic Energy Agency report released on Thursday that says Iran may be developing a nuclear warhead.

“The new IAEA report deals more sharply and clearly than its predecessors with the military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Friday.

Noting that the report is the first during the term of new IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of Japan, Israel said it “establishes that the agency has a lot of trustworthy information about the past and present activities that testify to the military tendencies of the Iranian program.”

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