Iran announced on the 1 Dec 18 that it launched a new domestically made destroyer which the state media claimed had a “radar-evading” stealth capability. Although for some this maybe of interest its later in the news report that there is a mention of something more interesting. A navel commander said that the destroyer (Sahand) maybe part of a small fleet that Iran plans to send to Venezuela, South America, for up to 5 months. This small detail has significance due to the home front problems that the Iranians are currently facing in light of sanctions. Hard currency such as the dollar and the Euro are hard to come by but with the Iranian backed Hezbollah working with drug cartels operating in Venezuela the hard currency that they desire can be acquired through the drug market as well as the money laundering that takes place and therefore assist the Iranian regime prop the rial up for a little longer whilst the Trump administration is in power. It remains to be seen if this is the case but why else would the Iranians send a small fleet of warships to South America? It is a safe way of sending the money back in a manner no-one can touch it. For to attempt to take on the ships would be an act of war, so this is by far the safest way. On the 4 Dec 18 president Rouhani stated that they would not be stopped in exporting its oil. Although there has been no suggestion of stopping the sale of Iranian oil just punishing those who do purchase the oil. During the Iran/Iraq war there was a Tanker War between the two sides. But the United States stepped in when the Iranians threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. Indeed, President Reagan did attack two Iranian oil platforms due to an attack against US Navel shipping. The Iranians cut back its attacks after that leaving the Strait open to maritime shipping. The Iranians have upon numerous occasions threatened to close the Strait since then and have held numerous navel exercises to that effect. Along with the normal rhetoric that’s all they can do for to show aggression against the US militaries 5th fleet based in Bahrain and other US locations in the Gulf such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait it would be a very tactical mistake and Iran is more than aware of that. In the report the President accused the media of “exaggerating” the country’s problems with hyperinflation and mass unemployment. Although in another report published on the 3 Dec 18, it carried the story of the Iranian Ahwaz steel workers striking for the 17th day in a row. The strike was about rising prices, lack of purchasing power and government corruption. The strikers were also voicing their thoughts about Syria telling the Iranian government to leave Syria to its own devices and concentrate on Iranian people. Its difficult to keep your head above water when your feet are encased in Hamas cement with Syrian arms.
On the 4 Dec 18 the BBC, amongst others, ran a story about the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) conducting an operation known as “Northern Shield”. The operation was being managed in the border town of Metulla in an area known as the ‘closed zone’ and runs between Israel and Lebanon. Hamas had been sharing tunnel digging know-how with Hezbollah. The tunnels would be used as one of the main thrusts against Israel if a conflict was to develop between the two and Hamas could attack Israel, amongst other reasons, should a future conflict breakout. Tunnels had been used in the past to smuggle goods between Gaza and Egypt since the mid-1990’s. In 2001 and later in 2004-2005 Hamas was digging tunnels under IDF military locations and planting explosive devices. Soldiers have been kidnapped and killed by use of tunnel systems in the past. Israelis are concerned that these tunnels can also be used to infiltrate behind their defensive shield to kidnap civilians and attack the security forces in the rear during a conflict. Such tactics would hinder any advance into Hamas territory and detract soldiers from fighting on the front line by patrolling, detecting and conducting internal security by aiding the civilian police. Hamas see these tunnels as a new means to attack Israel because they cannot do this themselves above ground, “attack tunnels” would be a new manner of conducting a war. Rockets, finance and parts of Iranian supplied missile systems, which are later constructed sometimes within tunnel complex’s so as not to be detected, are also smuggled into Gaza via tunnel systems and later fired into Israel. Tunnels in Mexico were found to be very similar to those used by Hamas. They are usually 80 feet below ground and can run half a mile long and normally run from a house or a business. The depth of the tunnels makes them very difficult to locate using ground penetrating radar. The tunnels between Mexico and the United States along with those between Gaza and Israel are not cheap to build. The tunnel will have drainage, lighting and ventilation and many are constructed by using cement and/or building bricks/blocks. Hamas has become the number one in tunnel excavation and building, so good that they are exporting this knowledge. The tunnels that the Israelis hunt for run into hundreds which makes it difficult for the Israelis to detect and destroy. The cost of these tunnels is burdened on the unsuspecting Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip. Hamas “diverts” cash given to it by various forms including foreign aid and puts the money into building tunnels. Hamas are destroying their own people from within by not allowing all the funds to reach the areas they were designating them for. It has been reported that since the end of Operation Protective Edge in Aug 14 the Hamas terror organisation has spent approximately $120 dollars on these tunnels. Hamas are stealing from their own people as that money could be spent on many other things for the Palestinian people. It has also been noted that only the poor construct these tunnels as they have been known to collapse. The Hamas government does not lead by example; no higher Hamas governmental official will allow their family members to go down and construct a tunnel. In regards to the latest exposure of the tunnel the Lebanese claim that Israel provides no information or proof. On the 7 Dec 18 an independent United Nations (UN) inspecting team stated that there was indeed a tunnel in the area that the Israelis reported. The finding and report will be sent to the appropriate Lebanese authorities. With the independent UN sending in a report it will be interesting to see how Hamas (Hezbollah) and the Lebanese government will react. It will show that the Lebanese/Hamas/Hezbollah are working together and it may also mean that when an attack on Israel occurs in the future it will be from many fronts and from underground. At the moment the Israelis have stopped on the Israeli side of the tunnel but it stated that it may pursue the tunnel further. It is not known at this time how the Lebanese feel regarding this nor from the statement sent by the UN.