According to a breaking report on Channel 2, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, after consultation with the State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan at the Ministry of Justice this evening, has reached a decision that there’s no reason to involve the police in investigating the alleged Netanyahu submarine scandal reported by Channel 10. This implication of this statement is that there was no criminal wrong-doing on PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s part.
After the Channel 10 submarine report came out, Netanyahu’s lawyer and the central figure in the alleged submarine scandal, Dovid Shimron, took and passed a polygraph test, indicating he was speaking the truth when he said Netanyahu did not know about anything illegal or unethical.
Shimron was asked four questions: “Did you tell the Prime Minister about any connection between you and German shipyards? Have you talked to the Prime Minister about procuring submarines? Have you talked to the Prime Minister about maintenance of the vessels? And did you tell the Prime Minister you represent Miki Ganor?”.
Shimron responded in the negative to all the questions.
According to the report, the AG will still continue to check into any possibilities of a conflict of interest, presumably on the part of Dovid Shimron, but there’s nothing here that requires a police investigation or criminal probe.
Netanyahu has made it clear that security considerations were his only criteria and concern in the decision to purchase the additional three submarines.
The decision effectively sinks Channel 10’s attack and accusations against Netanyahu.
After Channel 10’s report came out, all of Netanyahu’s political adversaries, Yair Lapid, Ehud Barak, Moshe Yaalon and Yitzchak Herzog, jumped into the tub and joined the cacophony calling for Netanyahu’s investigation.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected calls by Opposition Leaders Sunday to investigate Israel’s purchase of three combat submarines from Germany, following a report by Hebrew-language Channel 10 last week that the purchase was made over the objections of then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Channel 10 noted that Netanyahu’s confident and personal attorney, David Shimron, had financial interests vested in the company that sold the submarines, insinuating that Netanyahu’s push for the deal was motivated by a desire to help Shimron, rather than by Israel’s legitimate defense needs.
The issue has created a political storm in Israel over the past week.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu denied the charges outright, and rejected calls by opposition members for a State Commission Of Inquiry over the matter.
“I am guided by only one principle: Israel’s legitimate defense needs. That Israel will be able to defend itself by itself against any enemy in any realm,” Netanyahu told cabinet ministers. “These are strategic weapons that ensure the future of Israel…Strengthening of Israel’s [military] strength is the only thing I considered when purchasing the submarines.
Yesh Atid Head Yair Lapid and Labor Party MK Erel Margalit called for a formal Commission of Inquiry over the issue, but former defense establishment officials now involved in politics suggested that reportage of the incident was likely flawed.
“I’ve got to say, from all the information that’s running around the media, I’m sorry to say there is a severe lack of actual information,” said MK Avi Dichter (Likud) a former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and current Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He told Israel Radio it was “inconceivable” that a multi-billion dollar deal could be accomplished without the full agreement of the military, the National Security Council and the Defense Ministry.
He added that his recollection of the deliberations was that the arguments for and against the sale were presented professionally and transparently.
Former IDF Director of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin added that the purchase of new military hardware is an issue that requires years of forethought.
“You have to think about how many submarines we need, how many we have, when we’ll need to upgrade them,” Yadlin told Army Radio. “[You consider the issue in] light of the defense budget. ‘Do we invest in submarines (which typically have a useful life of approximately 30 years) at the expense of other branches of the armed forces? It’s a question of how you build your strength.
Yadlin stopped short of calling for a commission of inquiry, but he added that it is important that the public view the administration of the defense establishment as clean, and not tainted by even the appearance of corruption.
“There are many questions, and [the issue has ]been in the public eye, so it would be correct to investigate. That way, if there is no truth to the rumors, it would dispel the public’s suspicion that something is afoul. And if mistakes were made, they should be investigated and fixed,” Yadlin said.
But the decision, made by the government after recommendations by the security cabinet, the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry, is under scrutiny by some Israeli media that has been said to be seeking ways to undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Attorney David Shimron, who has been the prime minister’s personal lawyer for many years, is also representing the German company that sells the submarines — a sale Israel’s Channel 10 has alleged was opposed by the IDF and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
An IDF spokesperson said Thursday, however, that the military had informed the cabinet of a “need” for new submarines. The National Security Agency (NSA), said in a statement that there has been a “wave of false reports” and that in fact, the deal with Germany to purchase the latest group of new submarines was fully supported by Ya’alon.
Israel’s Channel 10, accused of a vendetta against Netanyahu, reported Tuesday night that Shimron is being accused of a serious conflict of interest because he represents both the German shipbuilder and has held high-level meetings with its Israeli representative, Miki Ganor.
Shimron told media in a statement, “I have not spoken with any state officials about the privatization of the naval shipyard nor have I dealt with any state officials about vessels purchased by the State of Israel.”
Likewise, Netanyahu told Channel 10 that he has never discussed Shimron’s private clients with him. “The only reason for the deal with the Germans is strategic and economic considerations,” he said.
In a statement on his Facebook page late Wednesday, the prime minister noted that the agreement on the submarines was carried out “in an orderly, professional manner with no outside influence and with the recommendation of all the professional bodies in the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the National Security Agency.”
Netanyahu announced at a cabinet meeting last month that negotiations were close to completion for the purchase of three more submarines for the Israel Navy, at a cost of NIS 6 billion ($1.5 billion), pointing out the acquisition was a strategically important move.
The prime minister has said the submarines will play an important part in the protection of Israel’s natural gas fields, and in the defense of the Jewish State against a nuclear-armed Iran.
“The acquisition of ships was done in a professional, organized way without any external influences,” said the National Security Council in a statement.
“In the course of preparations to protect natural gas fields and installations the government decided to purchase four ships. The decision was taken on recommendation of the security administration, the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry. During the course of our investigation, a number of possibilities were suggested for acquiring ships in accordance with the operational requirements of the IDF. At the end of our professional investigation it was decided based on political, operational, technological and budgetary considerations to base the acquisition on the agreement between the Israeli and German governments.”
The Council also underlined the fact that then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was involved in the decision-making process.
“The decision was supported by then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Ministry, and various officials from other government offices. It was also supported by then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in accordance with the IDF’s position. Within the framework of the deal, Israel was granted a significant grant from the German government by virtue of the special relationship between the two nations, rendering the cost of the project lower than any of the other alternatives.”
Former head of the National Security Council General Yaacov Amidror (res.) explains to Channel 2 how the process of deciding to buy the submarines was made (in Hebrew):
A new sonar system developed by the Israel Navy and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. significantly improves the newly acquired Dolphin submarines’ detection capabilities, Globes reported Wednesday.
The new sonar complements the original sonar systems installed on the Dolphin submarines by the German manufacturer. The additional sonar system algorithms enable it to ignore noises that can disrupt the range of the systems’ activity, while at the same time detecting distant noises—to enhance the capabilities of the German sonar system.
Israel Navy underwater combat systems section head Lieutenant Colonel Tal Schwartzmann told Globes: “Under the conditions of a submarine in combat, there is no time. We have a saying that whoever detects the threat first is the one to attack and destroy the other side.” In that context, Schwartzmann said, “the new sonar increases our detection rate by up to 40%, thereby enabling us to neutralize noises that interfere with the submarine’s work.”
Using the new sonar, the Israeli Dolphins will detect vessels equipped with advanced quiet engines, including “another submarine … and start following it long before the other submarine’s crew realizes that it has been detected, if it ever does,” Schwartzmann said.
The Dolphin 2-class diesel-electric submarine was developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW), Germany, for the Israeli Navy. They are the largest submarines to have been built in Germany since World War II, and the most expensive (half a billion dollars each, give or take) single vehicles in the IDF.
Israel and Germany have begun top echelon political and security negotiations of the purchase of new Dolphin class submarines, Israel Defense reported Friday. The IDF’s five-submarine fleet, its most expensive weapons system, is its longest arm in a potential war with a nuclear Iran. The purchase of the sixth submarine was an option that was part of the 2012 deal signed between the two countries, with Germany paying for about a third of the cost of each sub — $180 million out of half a billion dollars.
In the past the IDF’s strategic thinking regarding the submarine fleet was in dispute between former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert accused Barak of planning to buy a sixth submarine not because this was what the IDF needed (then Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was vehemently against such a purchase) but because the Germans bribed him. Eventually, it was Olmert who ended up being sentenced to prison over taking a bribe. Takes one to know one?
The reason Lieut. Gen. Ashkenazi was against the deal was that it was being paid for out of the shekel part of the IDF budget, rather than the US aid dollars.
As the new Dolphin class submarine arrives, in 2018, one of its older sisters will be decommissioned. Despite past IDF reluctance, the Israeli Navy has now developed a five-submarine strategy, and will buy two more new Dolphins to replace older ones, all with German subsidies.
The diesel-electric Dolphin 2-class submarines, developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG for the Israeli Navy, are the largest submarines to have been built in Germany since World War II. Each Dolphin-class submarine is capable of carrying a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes, as well as cruise missiles with a range of 930 miles. This means the Israeli subs can hit anywhere in Iran should the need arise, including with nuclear warheads.
According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Dolphin class submarines are nuclear armed, offering Israel a sea based second strike capability, in case its own territory had been struck by nuclear weapons and its land bases had been destroyed. It could still wipe out Iran, for instance.
Most of Israel’s Dolphins are normally based in the Mediterranean, but at least one was sent through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea for exercises in June 2009, and docked in the naval base in Eilat, probably as a warning to Iran. According to Haaretz, the Eilat naval base is strategically unsuited for Dolphin class boats, and getting them out of the Red Sea at a time of war would necessarily involve the consent of Egypt and Saudi Arabia who both control the Straits of Tiran.
According to The London Sunday Times, the Israeli Navy keeps at least one submarine equipped with nuclear missiles permanently of the Lebanese and Syrian coast.
Pyongyang is again obsessed with blowing up the American capital in a cloud of nuclear haze, on the video screen.
North Korea released its latest propaganda mini-film over the weekend, showing an ‘exciting’ nuclear attack on Washington DC.
Entitled “Last Chance,” the four-minute video released Saturday shows a submarine-launched nuclear missile that lays waste to Washington. The footage shoots through the history of U.S.-Korean relations, including images from the Korean War, the capture of U.S. surveillance ship Pueblo in 1968, and the first international nuclear crisis with Korea in the early 1990s.
The video reaches a sequence that shows a missile flying through the clouds, then swerving back to Earth and piercing the ground in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the American capital.
In the ensuing explosion, the U.S. Capitol building is dramatically destroyed, with a message then flashing on the screen in Korean: “If U.S. imperialists budge an inch toward us, we will immediately strike them with nukes.”
The video, posted to the DPRK Today website, concludes with the American flag in flames.
This is not the first such video released by North Korea, a nation apparently unable to resolve its issues other than with digital violence, arms sales to terrorists and video threats to world powers.
Pyongyang has been working hard to develop intercontinental ballistic missile (IBM) capability, particularly a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that can carry a nuclear warhead.
A similar video was uploaded to the Internet in 2013, with the White House targeted in the crosshairs and once again, the U.S. Capitol going up in the flames of an explosion.
The country then threatened South Korea with a “merciless military strike.”
For weeks, leader Kim Jong-un’s military leaders have been escalating the belligerent public rhetoric following the annual joint military drills by South Korea and the United States.
This year’s war games were even bigger, in response to North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket in February, and its nuclear test at the start of the year.
In particular, this year’s games included special drills that honed the skills needed for an operation to neutralize North Korea’s top leadership if need be.
Kim Jong-un has taken those drills personally. Last Thursday he presided over a long-range artillery drill simulating an attack on the Seoul office and residence of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
On Saturday the KCNA published a statement by the “Reconciliation Council” calling the South Korean president “dog like,” a “dirty old woman” and “chicken-like” among other epithets that are not printable on this website.
The North Korean leader demanded hours later she apologize via the artillery section of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), and “punish” those who formulated the new operation simulation. Pyongyang is unhappy with the international sanctions imposed on North Korea that followed its rocket and nuclear tests earlier in the year, though it was warned they would come in response.