U.S., Israel hold joint ballistic missile defense drill, underscoring strong relations


The United States and Israel kicked off a week-long ballistic missile defense drill Sunday in Haifa, called Juniper Cobra. The joint drill is conducted by the United States European Command and the Israel Defense Forces every two years. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Department of Defense Spokesman, told reporters, “[The] exercise is our nation’s premier exercise in the region and with Israel.” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon boarded the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Carney, docked at Haifa Port, on Monday and said the exercise was “yet another example of the very special and deep relationship between our great ally, the United States, and Israel.” He called the relationship between the two countries “an example of stability in the region, and we’re trying to introduce and include other states in this ensemble.” Dan Shapiro, the American Ambassador to Israel, was also aboard the ship and agreed with Ya’alon, saying that the drill was indicative of the “very deep and very important ties between the United States and Israel. This is a drill dealing with defending Israel.” Shapiro said that the two countries were collaborating on technology that will detect and destroy tunnels dug by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and that “Congress has approved a special budget which led to progress in the development work” of this technology.

The German air defenses commander, Maj. Gen. Robert Loebenstein, was also in Haifa to observe the exercise. He praised the cooperation between the German and Israeli militaries and presented an award to outgoing Israeli air defenses commander Brig. Shahar Shochet.


The United States must take steps to neutralize the threat of Iran’s cruise missile program, researchers at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs wrote in The Wall Street Journal Monday.Jonathan Ruhe and Blake Fleisher noted that while UN Security Council resolutions and the nuclear deal with Iran don’t prohibit the country from developing cruise missiles, which could carry a nuclear payload, the United States and its allies have the means to play a “bad hand well.” While China and Russia have an interest in supplying Iran with cruise missile technology, Security Council Resolution 2231, which supports the nuclear deal, requires that they get Security Council approval  – which the United States, Britain, and France could veto.

Iranian cruise missiles could pose an even greater risk than Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program. Cruise missiles have a shorter launch time, making detecting a launch more difficult. And because a cruise missile’s trajectory is closer to the ground, rather than parabolic like a ballistic missile, it is harder to track.

Using a veto has been a suggested response to Iran’s purchase of Russian fighter jets as part of an $8 billion arms deal. The United States has said the sale of Su-30SM jets would violate the terms of Resolution 2231, which prohibits the sale of “combat aircraft” to Iran. However, some critics of the administration have raised doubts whether the United States will use the veto to block the sale.

While the nuclear deal imposed an eight-year ballistic missile ban on Iran, the Islamic Republic has already tested ballistic missiles twice since the deal was signed. A UN panel found an October ballistic missile test to be in violation of a different UN Security Council Resolution. In January, the United States imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and entities for their role in supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, these sanctions were characterized by Foundation for Defense of Democracies executive director Mark Dubowitz as being the “bare minimum.” (via TheTower.org)


Aboud Dandachi, a Sunni Muslim from the city of Homs now living in Istanbul, has created a website dedicated to the Israeli and Jewish organizations and people helping Syrian refugees. The website, Thank You Am Israel, highlights the humanitarian aid being given to displaced Syrians and also refutes any reasons why Israelis and Syrians should be enemies. “As a Syrian, I am morally obligated to ensure that the goodwill that Israelis and Jews have displayed towards my people will not be overlooked nor forgotten. The day will come when the conflict in Syria will come to an end, as all things come to an end. On that day, it is imperative that Syrians reciprocate the enormous goodwill shown towards us by Israelis and the Jewish people. Whatever supposed reasons we may have had to be adversaries is dwarfed by the compassion shown to us during our darkest days, a time when we have nothing to give back except our gratitude,” writes Dandachi in a January opinion article on his site. Dandachi, a 39-year-old high-tech professional, says he never imagined the civil war in Syria would last five years. Dandachi left his hometown of Homs in September 2013 for Lebanon and then made his way to Turkey. Dandachi blogs: “While thousands of Syrians languish on the borders of neighboring countries, Israeli medical teams and hospitals have been tireless and unstinting in treating Syrians in need. . . Israeli and Jewish organizations are, despite considerable personal risk, on the ground in Greece and the Balkans, providing aid and assistance to the seemingly endless wave of refugees fleeing the mayhem of the Middle East." Dandachi told Ynet about his childhood anti-Israel education. “I grew up with statements like ‘These people are your enemies. The Jews are evil.’ And then I saw that the Jews are the most humane and generous people of this era. When I see that Hezbollah and the Iranians are coming to kill me and I’m forced from my home by Syrians, and then I hear that Israelis and Jews are helping Syrians, my view of the world changes.” (via Israel21c)

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