UPDATE 10 October 2012: What remains uncertain at this point is whether a US-Israeli precision joint strike on an Iranian nuclear target is related to the Obama re-election campaign or an effort to buy-off a unilateral Israeli strike prior to November 6th. Nevertheless, Israeli media continue to report on the possibility of a US-led "surgical strike" prior to November 6th citing sources close to the Pentagon and the White House. Two such articles appear in YnetNews.com today here and here. The assessment regarding the second window of low observability for a unilateral Israeli strike put forward here in late August remains plausible. If the US leads the strike any day between October 15th and 30th would also be plausible. In fact, a long-postponed "exercise" named "Austere Challenge" (AC12) will commence on October 21st with large numbers of US troops arriving in Israel beginning this Sunday, October 14th.
UPDATE 17 October 2012: An accurate count of the number of terrorist rockets and missiles being fired into southern Israel from Gaza in just the past week is difficult to know, but a good estimate would be between 75 and 100. At least seven were fired in a barrage aimed at Sderot in the past 12 hours. IDF soldiers returned fire with reports from inside Gaza revealing that their fire was accurate. The IAF was also in action with attack helicopters targeting missile launch sites in northern Gaza.
Multiple reports indicate that American air power is prepping a strike for somewhere in the Middle East; the exact point of attack is unknown but could occur anywhere from Libya to Iran.
In Syria, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has captured (and killed) members of Hezbollah from the region of Baalbek. According the Lebanese media the FSA has issued an ultimatum that they will expand the war into Hezbollah strong holds in Lebanon, including southern Beirut, unless Hezbollah's forces immediately withdraw from Syrian territory. The FSA ultimatum to Hezbollah includes a direct threat of assassination to Hassan Nasrallah.
UPDATE 22 October 2012: The assassination of Lebanese Brigadier General Wissam al-Hasan, a Sunni intelligence and security chief, by the apocalyptic Shi'a of Hezbollah on Friday, 19 October further pushes Lebanon to the precipice of renewed civil war that has been raging in Syria for months. A Sunni retaliation, possibly against Hassan Nasrallah (as noted above) or one of his key lieutenants is a virtual certainty.
That this assassination occurred just as a large US-Israeli exercise was beginning was probably no accident. At the minimum it provides the exercise with a real-time, real-world vignette to include among the nodes of the exercise's preplanned aspects, along with the active low-intensity conflict occurring in southern Israel, Gaza and along the Sinai frontier with Egypt. At the maximum current events are a boon to Israeli war planners on what the tactical map of a multi-front war will look like and how Israel can shape that map to its strategic benefit.
UPDATE 23 October 2012: Two weeks after the first OSINT mention of "a joint US-Israeli series of strategic strikes on Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities" mentioned in the fourth paragraph above, it is still the hot scuttlebutt among US military forces in the Middle East and elsewhere. Something, no one is really sure what, is in progress towards an execute order. This observation is based upon various service members in the region, and who are not necessarily involved in the executable, are seeing indications and warnings (I&W) of its existence.
UPDATE 25 October 2012: As the update directly above was being posted to Eschatology Today the Yarmouk weapons factory just south of Khartoum, Sudan (see Eschatology Today reference: Kuwsh) was in flames and spewing exploding live ordnance over a nearby residential area. The weapons factory had just been struck, most probably by stealthy Israeli F-16I Sufa aircraft. Eyewitnesses to the attack have perfectly described F-16I strike aircraft in a ground attack role as they were maneuvering in the sky overhead; I recognized these descriptions because I am an eyewitness to similar F-16 maneuverings just about every weekend in the sky over the Warren Grove ground attack test range in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. What is important about this is that it proves that Israel is more than capable of striking any similar factory or bunker complex located in Iran, sites like like Fordow, Esfahan, Arak, Natanz. How can I be so sure of this? Simply because the distance in air miles between Tel Aviv and Khartoum is 1,148 miles and the distance between Tel Aviv and Tehran is 987 miles. All of the probable target sites in Iran are closer to Israel than 987 miles. Intellectually honest military planners have probably taken notice of this now established fact as well.
UPDATE 04 November 2012: Do not overlook the fact that this long-range strategic strike by Israel into Sudan (Kuwsh) occurred with thousands of American troops deployed in the Holy Land in preparation for the official start of "Austere Challenge 2012," or "AC12," the largest joint exercise ever between the two nations. The original start date and the deployment of American troops into Israel was postponed indefinitely from last spring due to the fever pitch of rhetoric coming from the Netanyahu government regarding a unilateral Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities and the Obama Administration's opposition against a strike at that time along with official statements that the U.S. would not support Israel if it initiated a war with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.
Exercise "AC12" is classified 'TOP SECRET' and only the slimmest margin of details on the type of scenario being exercised will be made public. However, I personally have no doubt that the scenario being exercised regards the defense of Israel and American bases in the kind of regional Middle Eastern war that this nearly month-long blog topic is about. Make a special note of this: the American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (C-JCS), General Martin Dempsey, arrived in Tel Aviv this morning along with the top American general for the European Command, Admiral James Stavridis, to officially launch this top secret, $38 million dollar exercise just 48 hours before presidential election day in these United States. The presence of an American C-JCS at any exercise is extremely unusual. The message to Iran found in the Yarmouk strike in Sudan and the launch of the AC12 exercise is unmistakable as are the blatant political calculations of Barack Hussein Obama (see the update above for October 10). Concurrently with the start of AC12 the Islamic Republic of Iran announced this morning that it has suspended its uranium enrichment program at the 20% level, just a short step from achieving nuclear weapons grade enrichment. Coincidence? I think not.
UPDATE 11 November 2012: The full-scale, no-holds barred IDF engagement I've been forecasting for almost a full month against the terrorists in Gaza is getting harder for Bibi Netanyahu to not execute as the order of the day. The longer he waits the more Israel voters in this region will turn against him. Netanyahu's credibility is on the line with a promised "escalation" of his own against the terrorists. Israeli's don't want an escalation of violence, they want a thoroughly vanquished enemy and they want it now.
This morning Gaza terrorists escalated their attacks with barrages of Katyusha rockets and 120mm mortars against civilian targets. These are likely the heaviest weapons in the enemy arsenal and may well be the continuing response coming out of Gaza for the destruction for the Yarmouk weapons factory in the Sudan. The good news is that no more supplies of these weapons will be forthcoming from the Sudan.
The question we are all waiting for an answer to is whether Bibi Netanyahu's bite is more than his bark; whether he will cease being the Jewish politician in order to become the Israeli Commander-In-Chief.
UPDATE 14 November 2012: Today we see the answer to the question posed above just three days previously with the full-scale execution of the IDF's Operation Amud Anan (English: Operation Pillar of Cloud) against the terrorists in control of Gaza. The stated objective of the Israeli Defense Forces operation against Gaza terrorist organizations is to completely cripple them. Israeli special forces are already inside Gaza's borders and IDF armored and infantry units are poised to invade. The full statement by IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich was as follows:
“The foremost goal of this operation is to protect Israeli civilians, who have been living under fire for past 11 years. Only this year, the citizens of southern Israel have suffered over 760 rocket attacks. The second goal is to cripple the terrorists’ capabilities. As you heard, our first target was a vehicle in central part of Gaza. Inside the vehicle was Ahmed Jabari, born in 1960, the head of the Hamas military wing who was involved in numerous terror attacks on Israelis, as well as Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping. This is a man who has a lot of Israeli blood on his hands.
The second phase of the operation was an aerial attack which targeted 20 different targets, all underground, which served as launching pads for various kinds of rockets. Among these rockets were Fajr-5 rockets, Iranian-made weapons which can reach a lot further than the ordinary Grad missile. This was the second phase.
IDF General Staff is currently assessing the progress of the operation and according to its findings, will decide how to continue. All options are on the table, including a ground operation.”