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Iranian Drone Shot Down after Invading Israel; F-16 Crashes in Counterstrike

February 11, 2018 Peace and Conflict

An air battle erupted over Israel on Saturday. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth.

Iran invaded Israeli airspace on Saturday, setting off a miniature air-war involving three nations and ultimately resulting in an Israeli pilot and navigator being injured when their F-16 was shot down in the conflict. It all started when an Iranian drone aircraft flew into Israeli territory from Syria and was subsequently shot down by an Israeli helicopter early Saturday morning, according to a timeline of the day’s fighting posted to IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus’ Twitter page.

In response, Israeli jets hit Iranian targets inside Syria and during that counterstrike an Israeli F-16 was hit in a barrage of anti-aircraft fire. The pilot and navigator ejected from the plane into Israeli territory. By the time it was all over, Israeli jets had launched a “large scale attack” against Syrian air defenses and Iranian targets.

In a separate Twitter post, Conricus said that the Iranian drone—designed after an American drone captured by Iran in 2011—got three-to-four miles into Israeli territory and was observed for one-and-a-half minutes before being taken down. On Sunday, one day after the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that the Israeli response was strong and will continue to be. … Continue Reading

Israel Reportedly Struck ISIS-aligned Terrorists in Sinai More than 100 Times to Help Egypt

February 4, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Israeli jets reportedly came to the rescue in Egypt. Illustrative image of F-35. Image courtesy of the Department of Defense website. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

When ISIS-aligned terrorists were threatening to start their own mini-terror state inside Egyptian territory, it was Israel who played a critical role in beating them back and enabling the Egyptian military to recover—hitting those terrorists in more than 100 covert airstrikes approved by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, according to The New York Times. The foreign press report on Saturday noted that the main terror group in the Egyptian Sinai region that borders Israel—Ansar Beit al Maqdis—had made terrifying headlines in a span of just over two years, inspiring the secret Israel-Egypt cooperation that began in late 2015.

From summer 2013 until October 2015, the terror group killed hundreds of Egyptian security personnel, announced they were an extension of the Islamic State (ISIS or IS), temporarily took over a town in Sinai, and brought down a Russian passenger plane, killing hundreds.

In late 2015, Israel began the airstrikes. The New York Times report—which cited current and former officials from the United States and Britain because the Israelis and Egyptians refuse to comment on the sensitive operation—said Israel used unmarked helicopters, drones and jets to ultimately turn the tide in the fight. While Israel still hasn’t made the actions public, a day after the Times’ report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted the important role Israel has played in fighting the Islamic State terror group. … Continue Reading

‘Deeply Angered’ US Middle East Peace Envoy: ‘Gaza Deserves Better’ than Hamas

January 28, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the years, among other acts of terror. Illustrative photo of spent Rockets fired from Gaza. By Joshua Spurlock.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a visit inside a terror tunnel built by Hamas is worth thousands more—and United States Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt certainly didn’t soften his words after his own tunnel visit. “I am deeply angered by Hamas’ continued terror activity, including the digging of tunnels that facilitate terrorist activities,” said Greenblatt in an official statement on Sunday. “Such activities show Hamas’ continued exploitation of the people of Gaza and Hamas’ threats to stability and security in the region.”

On Twitter, Greenblatt was equally forceful, condemning the terrorist actions of Hamas and their impact not only on Israel, but Gazans as well. Tweeted Greenblatt, “Hamas wastes resources on tunnels & rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing & the economy growing. Hamas spews hateful rhetoric & foments a vicious cycle of violence. Gaza deserves better!”

In the official statement, which was posted to the website of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem, Greenblatt said he took a tour of the area surrounding Gaza and received a security briefing. Afterwards, he encouraged every nation and international donors who want to help Gazans to take the tour as well to “understand this difficult, tragic and complex situation.” … Continue Reading

VP Pence Tells Israeli Parliament: Jerusalem US Embassy to Open Before 2020

January 22, 2018 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu & VPOTUS Pence at the PM’s Residence. Photo credit: Avi Ohayon (GPO)

In a stirring speech to the Israeli parliament that touched repeatedly on Biblical themes, United States Vice President Mike Pence listed the patriarch Abraham and King David as evidence of the deep connection between Israel and Jerusalem. Given that level of support, it’s not surprising that he offered one of the clearest timelines yet on when the United States will move its Israeli embassy to the capital of Israel.

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President [Donald] Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” said Pence to applause according to a copy of his speech on the White House website. “In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later thanked Pence and President Trump again for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and Israel President Reuven Rivlin strongly called upon other nations to drop their “hypocrisy” and recognize Israel’s capital city as well. … Continue Reading

Germany Pushing for New Iran Sanctions to Keep Trump from Nixing Nuke Deal

Germany is trying to lead Europe on Iran. German, EU flags in Square of the Republic in Berlin. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

United States President Donald Trump was clear earlier this month when he said that Europe needed to increase restrictions on the Iranian nuclear and missile programs or else the US would terminate their role in the Iran nuclear deal. And it appears Germany was listening, because Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that Berlin is promoting new sanctions on Iran’s missile program and destabilizing activities in the Middle East, according to diplomats. The report said Germany, the UK, and France would intend the new sanctions—which would be outside the context of the nuclear deal with Iran—to acknowledge Trump’s concerns about Iran and to convince Trump to keep America in the nuclear accord.

The German Foreign Office had already tweeted that they “take note” of Trump’s statement on the Iran nuclear deal and that they would “talk to our European partners about next steps. We remain committed to the continued full implementation of the agreement.”

The Germans aren’t the only ones lobbying Europe to take the step. After Trump’s ultimatum, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on the topic. Netanyahu encouraged Macron that “Trump’s statement should be taken seriously and that those who wish to keep the deal should fix it,” according to a summary of that talk posted to Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Ofir Gendelman’s Twitter feed. Netanyahu also intended to discuss Iran with US Vice President Mike Pence during the American’s visit to Israel this week. … Continue Reading

Israel Destroys Third Terror Tunnel in 2 Months, Warns Don’t ‘Try Us’

January 14, 2018 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

The war below ground to defend Israel continued over the weekend, as the IDF destroyed the third Hamas terror tunnel in two months, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed. The latest tunnel ran in the area of the Kerem Shalom crossing from Gaza into Israel, a location that directly impacted the people of Gaza. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus noted in a video on Twitter that the tunnel not only violates Israeli sovereignty, but also puts at risk the operations of the Kerem Shalom humanitarian crossing, which he noted is where 5 million tons of humanitarian goods enter Gaza from Israel per year.

A separate video by Col. Koby Heler on the IDF Spokesperson Twitter feed said the tunnel ran under the crossing itself, while another Twitter post said that the crossing would not be open the day after the IDF destruction of the tunnel “following an assessment of the situation.”

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Conricus said that the IDF “does not wish to escalate the situation, however we hold the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for any acts of aggression against the State of Israel or its civilians and we will continue to defend our borders and sovereignty.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an even sterner warning to Gaza’s terrorists: Don’t test us. … Continue Reading

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