Are Gaza rockets targeting Kurdish oil route to Israel?

Sderot factory ablaze after a direct hit from a Gaza rocket

Sderot factory ablaze after a direct hit from a Gaza rocket

Over the last month the rocket fire into southern Israel from Gaza has been steadily increasing, and with increasingly severe results.  On Saturday night a factory in Sderot took a direct hit and burnt down, while other factories in the area were damaged.  4 people were injured in that attack. A further 2 rockets hit other areas in the region. In retaliation the IAF hit 12 terror targets in Gaza. That wasn’t the only attack over the weekend:

On Friday evening, six rockets were fired into from Gaza into Israeli territory and a mortar shell exploded near the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Two of the rockets fired were shot down by the Iron Dome anti missile system while the other four fell in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. No damage or injuries were reported as a result of the rockets or mortar fire.

The Israeli Air Force attacked four terror targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Friday in response. IAF aircrafts struck two terror activity sites, a weapon manufacturing site in the central Gaza Strip and a weapons storage site in the southern Gaza Strip, the IDF said. Direct hits were confirmed on all targets.

Just hours before the rocket attacks on Friday, the IAF launched an attack on a civilian vehicle killing Muhammad al-Fasih, 24, from Gaza City, and Usama al-Hassumi, 29, from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
Both were senior members of Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees and supposedly connected to an increase in rocket attacks over the last two weeks since the IDF began Operation Brother’s Keeper searching for three abducted Israeli teens in the West Bank.
Iron Dome intercepts Gaza rockets

Iron Dome intercepts Gaza rockets

This morning an even heavier barrage of rockets hit the south, causing damage to houses with residents suffering from shock:

At least 16 rockets were fired out of Gaza at Israeli communities Monday morning, most of them hitting open areas in the Eshkol region, the army said.

In the Sdot Negev region, two people were treated for shock after a high-trajectory rocket hit near two homes, causing light damage, according to police.

Haim Yellin, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council warned that the deterrent effect put in place by Israel’s last major engagement with Gaza, 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense, had waned.

“Israel’s government has two arms, political and military, and it needs to use both wisely to return quiet to the region,” he said according to Ynet.

He added that classes for Monday, the last day of school, would be held as normal.

The missile attacks came hours after Israeli aircraft retaliated against rocket fire emanating from the Strip in a Sunday evening strike that Palestinian reports said left one Palestinian dead and three injured.

The army said in a statement that the raid was targeting terrorists “in the southern Gaza Strip, during​ their final preparations to launch rockets at civilian communities of southern Israel.”

“Hamas is responsible for the outrageous attacks originating from Gaza, and will be pursued as such,” Lerner said.

Palestinians said the man who was killed in the Israeli airstrike had been a member of Hamas.

The Israel Air Force attack on Khan Younis came minutes after Palestinians in the coastal enclave fired a volley of rockets at southwestern Israel. The Iron Dome defense system shot down two of the projectiles — Grad rockets — over Netivot. There were no reports of injury or damage in the rocket attack.

Senior government figures said Sunday that Israel was prepared to ramp up operations against Hamas, which it holds responsible for the fire, in order to stem the rockets.

We are ready to expand this operation as per need,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday morning.

According to Israeli officials, June saw a spike in rocket attacks, with 4.5 times the number of rockets launched at Israel compared to the previous month, from 13 rockets launched in May to over 60 in June.

Just consider those numbers for a moment and imagine how you would feel if your community was hit by 60 rockets in one months. It is outrageous that the world doesn’t react or even mention it in most media unless and until Israel hits back.

While it ought to be the rule that even one rocket is unacceptable, the sad fact is that until a serious barrage comes over Israel retaliates only sparingly.  However, at the present rate, we might be looking at another possible Gaza offensive for which the IDF is currently preparing.   Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman even went as far as to call for considering retaking Gaza altogether.

Although most Israelis reckon that the Gaza jihadists, whether they be Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any of the other amorphous gangs, simply want to disrupt life in Israel and kill as many Israelis as possible, DebkaFile posits a different theory: the reason for the increased rocket-fire from Gaza onto the south is because Hamas wants to disrupt Israel’s oil pipeline bringing oil from Kurdistan to Israel. (via DavidinPT).

The Trans-Israel Pipeline from Ashkelon to Eilat is the real target of the increased Grad rocket fire on Ashkelon and nearby coastal areas, military sources tell debkafile. Its momentum has quickened since the launch this month of a transit route for oil exports from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq via Turkey and Israel.

Islamic Jihad and other Salafist militants in Gaza are in cahoots with the Al Qaeda affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis operating out of Sinai. All are potential sources of the rocket fire and certainly have an eye on civilian targets, but the sources say the uptick of the last few days is a clear attempt to take out the new Kurdish export route. (see attached Special Map)

Route of the Kurdish oil pipeline to Israel

Route of the Kurdish oil pipeline to Israel

Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda in Sinai are strange bedfellows – their backers, Iran and ISIS, are at loggerheads in Iraq. But they share an interest in preventing Israel from using its small oil ports, Ashkelon and Eilat, to become a major conduit for Kurdish oil. Through its geography and infrastructure, Israel has quickly become a key element in the war in Iraq and its future.

Iran wants to put a stop to oil sales out of the northern Iraqi oilfields near Kirkuk, while ISIS considers Iraqi oil to be an important war spoil and strategic asset, likewise the oilfields in eastern Syria.

Both Tehran, which has its own designs on Kirkuk, and ISIS, were amazed to discover the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had signed onto a combined Kurdish-Turkish-Israeli concern for the new Kurdish export route. No time was lost for this transaction after the Kurdish peshmerga moved into Kirkuk as Iraqi troops fled the oncoming ISIS fighters.

The crude flows to Ceyhan, Turkey’s port city on the Mediterranean. From there it is loaded onto tankers that sail to Ashkelon, where the cargo is unloaded either into storage or poured into the 254-kilometer Trans-Israel Pipeline. Traditionally the pipeline has served companies from Russia and Central Asia who use Israel as a middleman for their sales to Asian countries. But with the arrival of the first Kurdish tankers in the past few weeks, the pipeline has begun to operate at its capacity of 20 million tons per year.

Now that the tanker channel between Turkey and Israel has opened in the service of oil, Western military sources say that the two countries’ navies have boosted their cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean to secure the channel, the tankers, and their precious cargo.

They add that Israel has put special security measures in place to bolster its defenses against terror and rocket attacks in Eilat and the Gulf of Aqaba, lest newly arrived Iranian and ISIS elements in Sinai target Eilat’s oil terminal and the tankers full of Kurdish oil.

This article certainly helps explain Turkey’s acquiescence both in the face of the Kurds’ burgeoning autonomy in Iraq and in permitting the use of Turkish ports for the Kurds to ship their oil to Israel. (I wrote about this here).  On the face of it, Turkey is enabling its two main rivals to form an economic alliance at the very least.

Politics and expedience indeed make strange bedfellows, and the fear of Iran and the barbaric jihadists of ISIS has hopefully brought the Turks to their senses.

This entry was posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Mideast news, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Are Gaza rockets targeting Kurdish oil route to Israel?

  1. Andrea says:

    Anne,

    If my understanding is correct Turkey is restoring her startegical position more facing Iran. after years verbally confronting Israel.
    More generally It looks to me a three concentric circles game : the first less extensive inner circle where ISIS, pro Assad Syria, Islamits insurgents and Iranian Shitees are fighting on the field, a second outer circle where Israel, Turkey and Iran are setting long term strategy based on strong military asset and energy power (Nuclear, Oil and Gas ) and finally the third outer circle with Russia, USA and possibly China….
    Whilst Russia strategy looks coherent , I fail to catch USA game. I would not neglect China as well…expecially from an Israeli perspective.

    • anneinpt says:

      I think your assessment is pretty much correct (though of course I’m not exactly an expert, I just read a lot of news items).

      Watching Turkey is certainly very interesting, and I really hope this is the beginning of improved relations with Israel.

      The USA’s game? Wait for my blog post tomorrow. Basically, they haven’t got a game. They have no strategy. Obama thought he could apologize and grovel his way through the Middle East and suddenly reality has slapped him in the face. Now he’s trying to put things right but he and his advisers have no clue what to do. They reject their allies and try to make nice with their enemies; their allies now don’t trust them and the enemies are laughing at them; and the US is now drifting.

      I don’t think Israel is neglecting China, certainly economically. Politically it’s more complicated because China is very fickle. They will be friends with both sides of a conflict so it is hard to trust them completely that they won’t sell our secrets to the Arabs.

  2. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Anne quotes the following: “Just hours before the rocket attacks on Friday, the IAF launched an attack on a civilian vehicle killing Muhammad al-Fasih, 24, from Gaza City, and Usama al-Hassumi, 29, from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
    Both were senior members of Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees and supposedly connected to an increase in rocket attacks over the last two weeks since the IDF began Operation Brother’s Keeper searching for three abducted Israeli teens in the West Bank.”

    Perhaps this is that attack she refers to (note the unharmed pedestrian – truly a targeted assassination):
    http://www.israellycool.com/2014/06/28/video-of-the-day-trip-to-paradise-for-two/

  3. Pingback: Middle East melt-down: ISIS reaches Jordanian, Syrian borders; Kurdistan rises | Anne's Opinions

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