Washington: The real agenda behind Israel's assault last month on Hamas' munitions stockpiles and smuggling tunnels was to eliminate as many as 100 Iranian-built Fajr5 missiles, with the power to reach Tel Aviv, that had been sneaked into Gaza through Egypt, intelligence experts have said.
According to Jonathan Schanzer, a former counter-terrorism analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the real agenda behind Israel's war on Hamas was not simply to end the daily barrage of relatively primitive rockets that have become part of Jewish daily life.
He says the Obama administration knew in advance of the operation and agreed that the missiles, built in a Sudanese factory, had to be neutralized to protect millions of Israeli citizens who were now within range of the deadly Iranian weapons, CNN reports.
"The U.S. was fully aware of what was going to come in Gaza. They said nothing for the first few days of the operation; there was dead silence from [Obama]," Schanzer, now vice president of research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies said.
According to the report, Israel essentially achieved its main aims within the first few days, said Schanzer, noting that Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., said as much when he remarked on Day Three of the campaign: "We have run out of good targets."
Israel's elimination of senior Hamas figure Ahmad Jabari as he drove in broad daylight in Gaza also fits into Schanzer's narrative.
"Ahmad Jabari, along with another major Hamas figure, Mahmoud al Mabhouhk, [who was assassinated in Dubai in 2010], was a key part of the procurement network for the Fajr missiles and there is little doubt that Israel was keen to take out the man responsible," Schanzer explained.
Schanzer contends that the operation actually began three weeks earlier, when, on Oct. 23, the Iranian-owned Yarmouk armaments factory in Sudan - believed to be the assembly plant for the Fajr5 missiles that have a range of up to 45 miles - was devastated by air strikes for which the Sudanese government holds Israel responsible, the report said.
The suggestion of American knowledge and approval of the alleged Israeli attack in Sudan and the subsequent offensive in Gaza, undermines the theory that Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were not on speaking terms after the elections, in which Netanyahu expressed support for Mitt Romney. The grave threat posed by the Fajr5 rockets may have been enough for both leaders to agree that something had to be done - and fast, the report added.
"The fact of the matter is that there was a significant upsurge in rocket fire from Gaza in the weeks leading up to the operation. Once the need to respond was there, it made sense to take the opportunity to act against the most dangerous weapons. Those (the Fajr rockets) were the first targets. There was a need to minimize their ability to target major population centers in Israel," an Israeli administration source said.