a different side of Israel

Tag: Second Lebanon War

Can You Hear Me Now?

You might have heard this story. When Barack Obama became the president of the United States of America, he was told that he could no longer use his personal BlackBerry to receive e-mails, for the reason that it is not secure. Shortly after he took office, however, press reports emerged that one of America’s government agencies had succeeded in creating an encrypted BlackBerry, which had been specially designed for President Obama.

The IDF is considering doing the same and in the coming year plans to choose a new phone model to be used by commanders for the “Mountain Rose” encrypted military cellular network.

Mountain Rose is a completely secure network that enables IDF commanders to communicate with one another via cellular phones that can also be operated from behind enemy lines, as they were during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009 and the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

In comparison to cellular phones used by the public, the model used by the IDF – designed by Motorola according to military specifications – is too bulky and large.
Following Cast Lead, OC C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) Directorate Major General Ami Shafran ordered his staff to propose a new device that could replace the phones currently used for the Mountain Rose network.

Under consideration is the BlackBerry as well as Apple’s I-Phone. The IDF is also planning to expand the bandwidth of the network to enable the new devices to receive live video footage from unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as to hold video-conference calls.

Bad Timing: Olmert’s U.S. Visit & the ‘New Middle East’

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appearance in Washington on Monday comes amid a new reality that is already being felt in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s triumph by the U.S. Democratic Party. Though planned well before the November 7 mid-term Congressional elections, Olmert should have realized that the atmosphere in the U.S capital will be quite different than the one he experienced last April when he last visited there following his election win in his own country’s elections. This visit also comes on the heels of the July-August Lebanese II war, as well as last week’s IDF killing of a large number of Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun, Gaza; already being called by many as a massacre similar to the one which occurred in the southern Lebanese village of Qana (see photo) where dozens of Lebanese refuges were killed in one building.

Olmert faces a different U.S. political reality, with a new Congressional makeup which will undoubtedly be less sympathetic to Israel’s situation with the Palestinians, as well as regarding the entire Middle East. Olmert is most likely interested in receiving more U.S. aid to help repair his country’s northern infrastructure following the damage sustained in last summer’s 34 day conflict in which more than 6,000 Hezbollah launched rockets caused millions of dollars in property damage, completely trashed a promising tourism season, and resulted in the scorching of more than 10,000 square hectares of forest and pastureland, some of which will take generations to recover from. A new congressional reality in January, 2007, will have the task of approving U.S. foreign aid packages to many countries, including Israel. Israel has been the largest recipient of foreign aid, with a sum of 3 billion Dollars being appropriated on an annual basis. A new Democratic Party controlled Congress will not only be scrutinizing these aid packages, but may be less apt to grant Israel the requested sums. The Bush Administration is already being cast as a “more than lame-duck” administration, meaning that Bush will have difficulty passing even the most mundane legislation through Congress.

The future of the U.S. presence in Iraq is already being discussed by new Democratic lawmakers who are saying that the American public want change; and that ‘change’ will more than likely result in an early withdraw of most American forces from not only Iraq, but from Afghanistan as well. The five year War on Terror has simply not produced results that were hoped for, and most Americans feel even less safe than they did following the September 2001 mega terror attacks on the American home front. How American foreign policy will be changed during the next few years is still a matter of speculation, but changes there will surely be; especially with the strong prospects of a Democratic Party President being elected in only two years time.

Mr. Olmert may find the ‘winds of change’ a bit chilly when he arrives in the American Capital; not to mention the U.N. General Assembly, where he is scheduled to give a speech toward a less-than-sympathetic audience. And Israel’s recent Autumn Clouds military operation in Gaza may well turn into cold, winter rains.

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