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Today’s Top Stories
1. Massive explosion destroys Syrian air defense base; Syrian and Lebanese sources suggest Israel did it. Israeli media reports are saying the attack targeted an advanced surface to air missile battery.
Satellite images of the area obtained by Channel 2 show the Russian-made Neva missiles, as well as a SA-3 missile battery, that also includes a command center with a radar to track the missiles’ targets and broadcasting antennas to track the missiles as they are launched. The missiles have a range of 35km. and a 70k. warhead.
2. Hmmmm. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hasn’t been seen in public for three weeks — quite possibly because of an unspecified chronic illness. The Times of London reports:
His death, or even a prolonged absence, could prompt a power struggle as negotiations with the West over Iran’s nuclear programme reach a crucial stage.
Iranian sources claim that Ayatollah Khamenei collapsed recently during a private meeting and since then has been convalescing or receiving treatment. His last public appearance was in Tehran on October 5.
Al-Kashef told his Egyptian interrogators: “We consider Sinai the next frontier of conflict with the Zionists and the Americans.”
Israel and the Palestinians
• Israel insists that Palestinian and US officials knew ahead of time that eastern Jerusalem construction projects would be announced after the prisoner release.
• IDF sources deny Palestinian killed by army fire: Ahmed Tazata was apparently injured in an “internal conflict” between rival Palestinian groups.
• Guy Ben-Porat assessed the prisoner release for CNN.
• Strange bedfellows indeed. Looks like Paul Larudee — the Free Gazanik best remembered for the 2011 flytilla — is out of step with the Palestinians he used to show solidarity with.
The Syrian Situation
• Syrian rebels captured a video camera belonging to an Iranian cameraman embedded with the Revolutionary Guards. Its footage was obtained by BBC, and features Ismail Heydari, a Revolutionary Guards commander describing tactics, as well as the rebel ambush that killed him.
• Want a sense of what it looks like when a Syrian tank shell comes flying directly at you? Rebel surveillance video caught this.
• Kidnapped Polish photojournalist escapes Islamic captors. According to Reuters, Marcin Suder, a freelancer has already returned home.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• The Israeli security cabinet decided not to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. No reason was given, but Haaretz reports disagreements between the political and military echelons. Officials have previously said they won’t ratify it as long as other Mideast countries with chemical weapons refuse to recognize Israel. Israel signed the convention in 1993, but never ratified it.
“It feels more like another simple screw-up, the kind that happens every day with complex, interconnected networks, only this time, the impact was felt and seen more widely,” Santorelli said in an email to Tom’s Guide.
The AP story didn’t explain exactly how the security-camera problems led to the closing of the tunnels, but industrial-control-systems security expert Joe Weiss of Applied Control Solutions told Tom’s Guide that simply losing the video feed from inside the tunnels might be enough reason to close the road . . .
It’s possible that the report is indeed accurate. There just isn’t enough information disclosed to know for sure.
• Israel is thinking about closing its consulate in Philadelphia so it can free up money to open a new diplomatic mission in Chengdu, China and NBC 10 reports that the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce campaigning to keep it open. Philly mayor Michael Nutter is leading a trade mission arriving in Israel next week.
• Can you imagine the outrage if Israel did this: Russia’s Muslims face DNA tests ahead of Sochi Olympics
The DNA would be used to identify body parts should any of the women carry out suicide bomb attacks on Olympic targets.
• A number of Mideast states are pursuing nuclear programs — partly to diversify energy, partly to keep up with the Iranians. The Jerusalem Post looks at how Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey are progressing. Analysts say the Saudis would be most likely to pursue atomic weapons.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.