"We now stand, in my opinion, before the 50 most fateful days in Israel's history, since perhaps the Yom Kippur War, in which there were also several dozen fateful days."
So said the former Head of Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, at a closed meeting of Likud activists in Yafo. Aof his speech reached daily Makon Rishon's reporter, Ze'ev Kam.
"Thewill have to make decisions that will bear a price tag. Allowing Iranian nuclear weapons has a price tag. The practical result will be a nuclear arms in the entire Middle East," he explained.
"Today, when we say that we understand the danger of the Iranian threat, and understand that a confrontation bears a price, it is because we want to prevent our sons and grandson from paying unbearable prices," he said.
Hanegbi, who left Likud for Kadima and is now back in Likud, called on the activists to support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to "allow him quiet" and "strengthen his legitimacy" so that he can take the necessary decisions calmly.
Russia has starkly warned Israel and the United States against attacking Iran, saying Moscow sees no evidence that Tehran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday.
“We warn those who are no strangers to military solutions … that this would be harmful, literally disastrous for regional stability,” Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
An attack on Iran “would set off deep shocks in the security and economic spheres that would reverberate far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East region,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
Russian officials have issued similar warnings in the past, but Ryabkov’s remarks appeared to underscore Moscow’s concern about the possibility that Israel might attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was “at wit’s end” over the
“It was very, very clear that the Israelis had lost their patience with the ,” Rogers said, as reported by the Washington Post. approach to Iran in a recent meeting with the U.S. ambassador, Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich) has confirmed. U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro had denied earlier reports of a heated argument with Netanyahu.Netanyahu reportedly grew extremely upset over U.S. “stalling” on Iran’s nuclear program. “Instead of effectively pressuring Iran, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack its nuclear facilities,” he allegedly accused.
“We’ve had sharp exchanges with other heads of state and other things, in intelligence services and other things, but nothing at that level that I’ve seen in all my time where people were clearly that agitated, clearly that up about a particular issue,” Rogers said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel may reoccupy parts of the Gaza strip in the future, while speaking at a meeting of the Fisher Institute on "Operation Cast Lead" Friday.Barak also spoke about considerations of military operations in the future, commenting: "Wherever possible, we dot not go to war or perform military operations unless we have to - this is how it should be."However, he asserted that there are also cases where the opposite is true; it seems as though an attack is not necessary at that moment, yet the consequences of delaying it would be very grave.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz voiced hope in anpublished Thursday that Iranian leaders will decide to scrap their nuclear arms program of their own accord. He also said that the next war with Lebanon will knock the country back "by decades."
"We are more prepared than in the past, we are better than we were in the past, and we will do whatever the political echelon decides after this dialog [with Iran] is over," he said. "A nuclear Iran is not a question of ability, but rather one of decision. This is a global problem. Ultimately, the one who will decide to relinquish the nuclear program is Iran," the Chief of the Staff said in an interview toHalochem magazine, which is published by the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization.Lt. Gen. Gantz also discussed the northern border and called the situation in Syria "acute," stating that "the central government is fading, losing power… It is difficult to paint a picture of how the Syria of the future will look. We are closely tracking developments and are prepared for any possible aggression from that direction."
The Chief of Staff warned Hizbullah against trying to attack Israeli targets. "Today, the IDF is massively more prepared than in the past to carry out a large-scale, multi-dimensional offensive against Hizbullah," he said. "I would not recommend that it try our power. That would hurt it to the point that it would understand with whom it is playing with and with what it is gambling."
Western spy agencies suspect Syria’s government has several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursor components scattered among as many as 20 sites throughout the country, heightening anxieties about the ability to secure the arsenals in the event of a complete breakdown of authority in the war-torn nation, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say.
The collapse of government control in several Syrian provinces has prompted heightened scrutiny of the weapons depots by the United States and its allies in the region. It also has hastened preparations for securing the sites with foreign troops, the U.S. and Middle Eastern officials said.Drawing from recent intelligence assessments, the officials believe that the Syrian arsenal contains several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursors, including sizable quantities of battlefield-ready sarin, the deadly nerve agent.The stockpile appears to be larger and more widely distributed than originally suspected, according to two officials who have seen the intelligence reports. They said the most dangerous chemical stocks are kept in bunkers in about a half-dozen locations, while as many as 14 other facilities are used to store or manufacture components.
The U.S. is ramping up its presence at Syria’s Turkish border, sending more spies and diplomats to help advise the rebel forces in their mismatched fight against the better armed Syrian regime, and to watch for possible al-Qaida infiltration of rebel ranks.It is part of a two-pronged effort by the Obama administration to bolster the rebels militarily without actually contributing weapons to the fight, and politically, to help them stave off internal power challenges by the well-organized and often better-funded hardline Islamic militants who have flowed into the country from Iraq and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region.
Western intelligence officials say that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has personally sanctioned the dispatch of the experienced officers to ensure that the Assad regime, Iran's most important regional ally, survives the threat to its survival.
In addition, Iran has shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment, including guns, rockets, and shells, to Syria through the regular air corridor that has been established between Damascus and Tehran.
Intelligence officials believe the increased Iranian support has been responsible for the growing effectiveness of the Assad regime's tactics in forcing anti-government rebel groups on the defensive.The Iranian operation to support Mr Assad is being masterminded by Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Guards' Quds force which is responsible for overseeing Iran's overseas operations. The decision to increase Iran's support for Syria was taken after the Syrian defence minister and Assad's brother-in-law were killed in a suicide bomb attack at Syria's national security headquarters in July, together with a number of other senior defence officials."Iran has taken a strategic decision to deepen its involvement in the Syrian crisis," a senior Western security official said. "The Iranians are desperate for their most important regional ally to survive the current crisis. And Iran's involvement is starting to pay dividends."
Update 10:59 UTC
- A reporter who was inspecting the area saw huge landslides on both sides of the valley.
- Roads are being blocked by huge rocks.
- A boulder measuring 36 meter was blocking the river, creating a small lake
- The houses of 30 families living near a zinc mine have all been damaged
- aftershocks are following each other very fast. More landslides and rockfall is being triggered by the many aftershocks
- rescue workers have still problems to reach some areas as roads are blocked
Update 10:47 UTC
- Most of the fatalities (49 of the 50) have been reported from Yilang county
- The local seismological bureau has given 4 reasons why the death toll is higher in Yilang county
a) very high population density (205 people per sq/km vs 117 in the rest of Yunnan)
b) poorly constructed houses because of poor families and almost no industrial activity (no earthquake resistant building)
c) mountains and slopes which can trigger easily secondary effects like landslides
d) the double strong earthquakes impact. The second earthquake was shallower and closer to densely populated areas
- Experts from CEA (National Earthquake Authority) will arrive soon at the scene to help with the local authorities. National experts are only sent in after major earthquake events.
- High Voltage Power supply facilities have been severely damaged
Update 10:31 UTC
- China TV now reports that 50 people have lost their life in a double moderate earthquake, making this earthquake one of the most deadly this year. Assessment is currently done by the Chinese authorities
- Darkness will set in in a couple of hours making rescue work even more dangerous. Rescuers still have to cope with aftershocks of M3 to M4.