Posts tagged Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli aircraft struck at Palestinian militants in Gaza on Saturday who responded with a volley of rockets which rained on southern Israeli towns, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. Palestinian officials said seven militants were killed while on the Israeli side five civilians were injured.
Exchanges of fire are common between southern Israel and the Gaza strip controlled by the militant Hamas group, but this is the worst one in months.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said that seven people were killed and 15 injured in two separate attacks on militant targets.
An Israeli military spokesman confirmed a total of three strikes, saying the military hit Palestinian militants from the Islamic Jihad, one of several groups in Gaza which fires rockets into southern Israel. The spokesman said that the first attack specifically targeted a cell responsible for a Wednesday rocket attack that exploded deep inside Israel. That attack had caused no casualties.
The military “will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians,” the spokesman said. He spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with military protocols.
Israeli military released video footage taken from a military drone Saturday afternoon that shows Palestinians unloading rockets from a truck and preparing them for firing at Israel. The strike took place shortly afterward.
Abu Salmia, the Gaza health official, said five people had been killed and 11 wounded in the first attack. Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmed confirmed that one of its local field commanders, Ahmed Sheikh Khalil, was among the dead. He said Khalil was one of the group’s chief bomb makers. “Today it was a great loss for us in the Islamic Jihad,” he said. “The size of our retaliation will equal our loss,” it said in a text message sent to reporters.
“Our response shall be in the depths of the Zionist entity,” it said in reference to the Israeli heartland.
After the first airstrike, militants in Gaza fired over 20 rockets at southern Israel, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Islamic Jihad took responsibility for firing the rockets in a text message to reporters, and released photos of the rockets being launched from the backs of pickup trucks. The group said this is the first time they are using this system as opposed to firing them from launchers on the ground. source – Yahoo News
Reunion is bittersweet as over 1,000 terrorists also go home
TEL NOF AIR BASE, Israel (AP) – Israel’s prime minister has warned the Palestinian militants freed in a prisoner swap that they will be punished if they return to violence.
Netanyahu issued the warning after greeting the lone Israeli soldier freed in the swap, in which Israel is releasing more than 1,000 prisoners. Some 300 of them had been serving life sentences for deadly attacks on Israelis.
Netanyahu said he understood the pain of Israeli families who have lost relatives in Palestinian violence.
He said, “We will continue to fight terror and every released terrorist who returns to terror will be held accountable.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
TEL NOF AIR BASE, Israel (AP) – Freed Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit has arrived at an air base in central Israel for an eagerly awaited reunion with his family.
Schalit landed at Tel Nof air base on board a military helicopter.
His parents, Noam and Aviva, have led an emotional campaign to win their son’s release for the past five years. They have led nationwide marches and set up a protest tent outside the official residence of the prime minister.
Earlier Tuesday, Hamas militants in Gaza freed Schalit in a swap for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Ahead of the reunion, Schalit switched out of civilian clothes given to him by Hamas and into an Israeli military uniform. source – My Way
Full closure on West Bank in place until after Day of Atonement ends; large police forces deployed Jerusalem; train and bus services ceased.
Security and rescue forces were on high alert and deployed in large numbers in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank for Yom Kippur, which begins Friday afternoon and ends Saturday at dusk.
Security crossings into Israel from the West Bank were temporarily closed Thursday night and will open again at midnight on Saturday in accordance with security assessments adopted by the IDF.
The security presence in Jerusalem was also beefed up on Friday in preparation for Yom Kippur.
Train services throughout the country ended at 11:30 a.m and Egged bus services stopped running at 1:30 p.m. Bus services will resume at 7:30 pm on Saturday.
As occurs every year, streets and highways across the country are also empty of private traffic in observance of Yom Kippur.
The fast will begin at at 4:41 p.m in Jerusalem, 4:58 p.m in Tel Aviv, 4:50 p.m. in Haifa and will last 25 hours. source – JPost
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — American diplomats led a walkout at the U.N. General Assembly Thursday as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a sweeping attack on the United States and major West European nations, calling them “arrogant powers” ruled by greed and eager for military adventurism.
The two U.S. diplomats, who specialize in the Middle East, were followed out of the chamber by diplomats from more than 30 countries. They included the 27 European Union members, Australia, New Zealand, Somalia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Macedonia, a U.N. diplomat said.
Ahmadinejad’s speech contrasted what he called the poverty and unhappiness in most countries against the riches and power of the U.S. and unnamed European nations that he accused of perpetuating wars, causing the current global economic crisis and infringing on “the rights and sovereignty of nations.”
He attacked the United States and European colonial powers for abducting tens of millions of Africans and making them slaves, for their readiness “to drop thousands of bombs on other countries,” and for dominating the U.N. Security Council He singled out the U.S. for using a nuclear bomb against Japan in World War II and imposing and supporting military dictatorships and totalitarian regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“It is as lucid as daylight that the same slave masters and colonial powers that once instigated the two world wars have caused widespread misery and disorder with far-reaching effects across the globe since then,” Ahmadinejad said. “Do these arrogant powers really have the competence and ability to run or govern the world?”
The Iranian president answered by calling for “the shared and collective management of the world in order to put an end to the present disorders, tyranny and discriminations worldwide.”
Ahmadinejad made no mention of his disputed re-election in June 2009 when Iranian security forces systematically crushed opposition protests, the current internal political turmoil that has sharply diminished his power, or Iran’s nuclear program which the U.S. and its allies believe is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.
“While President Ahmadinejad is lecturing the world from the U.N. podium,” Human Rights Watch’s U.N. Director Philippe Bolopion said, “dissent is still being crushed ruthlessly in Iran and basic rights demanded by millions in the Arab world are brutally denied to Iranians who are demanding the same.”
“The world assembly should take with a grain of salt the remarks of a leader who said nothing about the public hanging yesterday of a 17-year-old in his own country,” he said.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad noted “the widespread awakening in Islamic lands … (in) the pursuit of the realization of justice, freedom and the creation of a better tomorrow.” He said “our great nation stands ready to join hands with other nations to march on this beautiful path.”
The Iranian leader accused the U.S. of threatening to place sanctions on anyone who questions the Holocaust and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States with sanctions and military action.
Without naming the United States, he asked: “Who imposed, through deceits and hypocrisy, the Zionism and over 60 years of war, homelessness, terror and mass murder on the Palestinian people and on countries in the region?”
Ahmadinejad accused some unidentified European countries of still using the Holocaust “as the excuse to pay fine or ransom to the Zionists.” He also said any question about the foundation of Zionism is condemned by the U.S. “as an unforgivable sin.”
Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said: “Mr. Ahmadinejad had a chance to address his own people’s aspirations for freedom and dignity, but instead he again turned to abhorrent anti-Semitic slurs and despicable conspiracy theories.”
When the idea of an independent fact-finding investigation of “the hidden elements” involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was raised last year, he said, “my country and myself came under pressure and threat by the government of the United States.”
“Instead of assigning a fact-finding team, they killed the main perpetrator and threw his body into the sea,” Ahmadinejad said, referring to the U.S. military’s killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in early May. source – Yahoo News
The rising tide
Israel’s military, Shin Bet security service and police went on elevated preparedness for trouble Wednesday night, Sept. 21, after receiving information that the Palestinian Hamas and other radical groups were preparing to stage violent confrontations with Israel on the West Bank, exploiting the anti-US mood sweeping Palestinian areas after President Barack Obama’s UN speech
Western Middle East experts rate his address as the most supportive of Israel ever delivered at the world body by any US president. It has stirred powerful emotions of resentment and disappointment among the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Crowds gathered in Ramallah and the streets of West Bank towns Wednesday – originally to celebrate the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ application for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood – instead shouted anti-US slogans and burned American flags.
Hamas and its radical allies determined to seize the moment for taking charge of the rallies set up by the Palestinian Authority and the rival Fatah for the rest of the week in the expectation of a UN victory.
The intelligence received in Israel reveals directions to all the extremist organizations close to Hamas, like for instance the Association of young Muslims on the West Bank, to go into action Thursday and build up to a climax Friday, Sept. 23. They were told to break into Jewish settlements to vandalize and torch homes, taking their model from the mass storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Sept. 10.
Friday, Palestinians were told to mob the checkpoints guarding Jerusalem, make for Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount. Riots and start a rampage there which would be sure to attract world attention to the Palestinian protest against President Obama and US support for Israel.
The Palestinian extremist groups will be venting their rage not just on the US but also Britain, France, Germany and the West at large.
At UN headquarters in New York, meanwhile, debkafile’s exclusive sources disclose that the Palestinian delegation and its leader Mahmoud Abbas, under extreme pressure to back away from their application for UN recognition, have informed Lebanese President Michel Suleiman who presides over the UN Security Council session Friday that their application will be filed on that day as planned. However, they will not insist on having it debated at once or put to vote.
Our sources report that this is the first crack in the Palestinian determination to go through with their UN initiative against all odds.
A western source in New York told debkafile that the Palestinians have begun to finally wake up to the virtual impossibility of their motion being carried by the Security Council.
Straight after the Obama speech, US diplomacy threw all its resources into persuading every Security Council member to oppose or at least abstain from endorsing the Palestinian motion. As of now, Nigeria, Gabon, India and Bosnia have agreed to consider withholding their support.
The key points President Obama highlighted in his address to the opening of the UN General Assembly Wednesday, Sept. 21 were:
- There are no short cuts to peace. It can only be achieved through negotiations – not statements and resolutions at the United Nations.
- Ultimately it is up to Israel and the Palestinians to agree on borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem.
- I also believe a genuine peace can be attained only between the Palestinians and Israelis themselves.
- The Palestinians deserve a territorial base for their state. (Ed: The 1967 borders were not mentioned.)
- But they must acknowledge the very real security concerns Israel faces every day.
- Israel is surrounded by neighbors who have repeatedly waged war against it. Its people are killed by missiles on its borders and suicide bombers. Other children are taught to hate them and far bigger nations want to wipe them off the map.
- They deserve a historical state in their historical land just as the Palestinians deserve a stated for which they have waited too long.
- Peace depends on compromise. Each side has legitimate aspirations and both must learn to stand in the other’s shoes.
- The US president stressed that the US is unshakably committed to Israel’s security.
Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama stressed peace cannot be imposed on the parties and a UN resolution will not bring the Palestinians a state.
Egyptian natural gas is flowing again to Jordan – but not to Israel
Both Cairo and Amman are keeping quiet about the resumption of supplies through the Sinai pipeline which was sabotaged five times since the Egyptian revolution in February. Jordan has agreed to top up payment for the gas by an extra $250 million, but Cairo has broken off negotiations with Jerusalem on new prices so making sure that supplies to Israel are cut off for good.
That is not the only cause for concern about the state of peace ties between Egypt and Israel. While Israeli officials optimistically forecast the early reopening of the Israeli embassy in Cairo after it was wrecked 10 days ago by a radical Islamic mob, officials in Cairo quickly put a damper on this forecast by announcing that the Israeli ambassador would not return to Cairo any time soon.
And in a symbolic snub, the military junta banned the traditional export to Israel of palm fronds for the Four Species blessing on the Sukkot festival next month. Last year, Israel imported 650,000 palm fronds from northern Sinai.
The Prime Minister’s Office and defense officials shy away from admitting that relations with the Supreme Military Council ruling Egypt are going from bad to worse. They explain that the new rulers are just wary of stirring up the masses for more uncontrolled outbreaks like the mob assault on the Israeli embassy on Sept. 10.
Israeli sources have also tried to find a ray of light in the ban the Supreme Council imposed this week on the radical Gama’a al-Islamiya running for election in the first post-Mubarak parliamentary votes in November.
However, debkafile’s sources stress that this ban has nothing to do with easing relations with Israel. The generals are simply scared of the Islamist fundamentalists gathering momentum for armed resistance to their own rule.
As one informed Western observer put it: The military rulers used the Israeli embassy break-in as the pretext for restoring Hosni Mubarak’s emergency regulations while at the same time downgrading Egyptian-Israeli ties in controlled stages so as to avoid drawing Western attention.
The flow of Egyptian gas through Sinai was made possible only after Israel permitted Egypt to post troops in demilitarized Sinai to safeguard the pipeline against more sabotage. The irony of the situation is that the gas is being pumped through to Jordan while Israel is deprived.
The Egyptian junta is equally cynical and nonchalant about security in Sinai, especially along the border with Israel.
Since the terrorist attack from Sinai on the Eilat highway on Aug. 18, which left 8 Israelis dead, beefed up Egyptian forces have not carried out a single operation against the thousands of terrorists loose in the peninsula, including al Qaeda cells, likeminded jihadi networks and Palestinian gunmen. Nothing has changed except for a few scattered roadblocks.
Indeed, the Egyptian junta’s claims of operations for purging northern Sinai of armed gangs and destroying weapons smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip were just make-believe. It concealed Cairo’s renunciation of responsibility for security in the lawless peninsula and the Israeli border region, transferring it to the indigenous Bedouin tribes, together with a large measure of autonomy, in deals they struck with the local chiefs.
No responsible force is therefore around to chase back to the Gaza Strip a Palestinian Jihad Islami gang of 30 armed terrorists hanging about the Egyptian-Israeli border since Aug. 25 waiting for the right moment to cross over for a multiple attack inside Israel. They have felt free to rotate gang members with fresh gunmen without being harassed.
To avoid putting any strain on the weakening ties with Cairo, Israel’s government has not complained about the month-long terror alert which has suspended highway traffic and public transport between northern and southern Israel; nor about the need to redeploy the Golan Brigade from the Syrian border to the South for an indefinite assignment against the next cross-border terrorist attack from Egypt.
A senior army officer told debkafile that never before has Israel massed thousands of soldiers in one place for so long against a threat posed by a score and a half of terrorists. source – DEBKA
Catholic priests throw their support behind Palestinian statehood
Priests in the Holy Land used their sermons on Sunday to give their blessing to the Palestinians’ bid for United Nations membership.
The retired Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, the first Palestinian to hold the post since the Crusades, was to preach in the Roman Catholic church in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
A joint statement by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran priests pledged their “support for the diplomatic efforts being deployed to win international recognition for the State of Palestine… on the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as our capital.”
The priests went further than their bishops, who in a statement this week confined themselves to a call for intensified prayer and diplomatic efforts ahead of the Palestinian membership request, to be sent to the UN Security Council on Friday.
“Palestinians and Israelis should exercise restraint, whatever the outcome of the vote at the United Nations,” the bishops said.
“We call upon decision-makers and people of good will to do their utmost to achieve the long-awaited justice, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu look set for a UN showdown next week, with Abbas planning to push for membership for a Palestinian state and Netanyahu arguing against it. ”Despite the pressures that we face, Palestine goes to the UN on the 23rd of this month to seek admission as a full member,” Abbas told Egyptian television on Wednesday. source – BREITBART