US Closes Palestinian Office in Washington for Rejecting Peace Plan ‘They Haven’t Yet Seen’

The Americans increased the pressure on the Palestinians for obstructing peace again on Monday, as the United States government closed the office of the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, D.C. The PLO is the official representative of the Palestinian government to the world and in …

Israel—An Ancient King of Making Glass

Centuries before the Land of Israel was a hub for the high-tech industry, the region was among the world leaders in another profession involving science, skill, and specialized knowledge: glass making. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced in a press release on Monday that they have discovered 1,600-year-old kilns used …

US Says Hamas Must Change, While Israel Notes 1000s of Animals Killed by Gaza Arson

The main United States negotiator for Middle East peace called for Hamas to change it’s ways and recognize Israel in an Op-Ed on Friday, and one day later, another attack by Gaza terrorists had Israel noting that arson and explosive attacks had killed thousands of animals in addition to property …

US, Israel Working Together to Pressure Iran; American Sanctions Target Iranian Use of Child Soldiers

The top United States financial official visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, and in a sign of the times, their first topic named by Netanyahu to the press was not economics; it was Iran. “This is what is going to occupy a great deal of our discussions today—how …

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Israel Lightens Restrictions on Gaza to Emphasize ‘Calm Is Better than Violence’

August 15, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Illustrative example of goods shipped to Gaza. Photo courtesy of the Israel Tax Authority.

With multiple days of general quiet on the Gaza border, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Facebook on Wednesday the re-opening of the Israel-Gaza border crossing back to its normal function “as a clear message for Gaza population: calm is better than violence.” Lieberman’s statement, posted in Arabic and translated into English on the Facebook page of Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) authority that works with the Palestinians on the ground, said that Gazans would “win” when Israelis have calm and “lose when #chaos prevails.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed in a series of posts on Wednesday that the Kerem Shalom border crossing would “be re-opened this morning for full activity” and that the fishing zone of Gaza’s coast would be expanded out to nine nautical miles.

The relaxing of restrictions comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing in July in an effort to curb Hamas terrorism with economic sanctions. For months, Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip have been launching attacks at Israel in the form of rockets, fire kites, and attempts to breach the border crossing to invade Israel. In recent weeks, there have been multiple upticks in rocket violence, prior to the latest period of calm. … Continue Reading

Israeli Government Launches Invest Program for ‘Gamechanger’ Cyber Defense

August 14, 2018 News

Prime Minister Netanyahu at cyber center. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / GPO

In a world in which the threat of a cyber-attack is almost constant, Israel is already a world-leader in cyber-defense technologies, and a new investment program allocating 90 million shekels ($24.4 million) is aiming to do more than just maintain the status quo. It’s specifically targeted to help “groundbreaking” research and development and pilot programs to benefit technologies “with ‘gamechanger’ potential” according to an Israeli government press release.

The three-year funding program—which offers to fund almost two-thirds of R&D costs for certain projects up to 5 million shekels ($1.36 million)—is a joint effort of the Israel Innovation Authority (IAA), the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, and the National Cyber Directorate.

“The Authority stresses the importance of groundbreaking cyber defense technologies to preserve Israel’s unparalleled prowess in the field,” Chief Scientist, Ministry of Economy and Industry, and Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority, Dr. Ami Appelbaum said in the press release. … Continue Reading

Gaza Unleashes Rockets at Israeli Civilians, IDF Responds

August 8, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Hamas firing rockets at Israel again. Illustrative results of Gaza attack. Photo Courtesy of IDF Spokesperson.

The day started ominously, with Hamas terrorists abandoning outposts to apparently escape potential IDF fire, and like the calm before the storm, the rain of rockets followed. More than 70 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in a six-hour stretch starting on Wednesday, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed, with rocket sirens warning of potentially more attacks. The tweet featured a graphic showing 19 different Israeli towns in which rocket sirens had sounded in the onslaught—and the rockets were hitting civilian targets.

Magen David Adom paramedics tweeted about multiple injuries occurring in the town of Sderot at multiple sites, while the IDF Spokesperson posted a video showing a playground damaged by rocket fire as one example of the day’s hits.

“Tonight, Hamas fired rockets at this playground in Sderot, Israel, which is home to 25,000 people. They’re innocent mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. The Hamas terrorist organization looks at Sderot from the Gaza Strip and sees 25,000 targets,” tweeted the video caption. The IDF did not take the barrage lightly, responding in force against Hamas.

… Continue Reading

US Reimposes Sanctions on Iran; Israel Tells Europe ‘Time Has Come to Stop Talking’

US President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on Iran Sanctions. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

United States President Donald Trump announced the first stage of renewed American sanctions on Iran on Monday, ahead of the official reimposition of sanctions at midnight on Tuesday. The anticipated move follows Trump’s decision in May to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal—also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond,” said Trump in a statement posted to the White House website. “…By exiting the JCPOA, the United States is able to protect its national security by applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime.”

The initial round of reset sanctions focuses on cars, precious metals and Iranian currency, according to Trump’s comments. In November, banking and Iran’s energy industry—including oil—will be targeted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Trump for making the move on Monday, calling it an “important decision.” … Continue Reading

Rating Agency Upgrades Puts Israel ‘Among Strongest Economies in the World’

August 5, 2018 News

Israeli flags. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The latest credit rating from Standard & Poor’s for the State of Israel saw the country upgraded from “strong” to “very strong” according to the S&P website, and that something for which Israel’s leadership sees as vindication for their economic approach. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the rating upgrade from A+ to AA- “positions Israel among the strongest economies in the world.”

Said Netanyahu in comments released by his office, “This attests to the responsible economic policy that we in the government have been conducting—the Finance Minister and fellow ministers. This policy has led to continuous growth in the Israeli economy.”

The Times of Israel reported that the improved credit rating is the highest Israel has ever received from the prestigious rating organization. In general, the S&P ratings go up to AAA, but Israel’s lower mark still represents a “stable” outlook according to a press release on the S&P website. The explanation on the website describing what the ratings mean terms anything in the “A” range to be “investment grade” and AA to indicate a “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.” Netanyahu believes that it’s not just the wealthy who are benefitting from the growth. … Continue Reading

Israel Threatens War with Iran if Critical Naval Waterway Blocked

Could Israel fight Iran at sea? Naval ship off the coast of Israel. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

With rhetoric between the United States and Iran soaring, the Iranians are making threatening to blocking key shipping lines—and Israel is now on record as threatening to militarily fight back if Iran carries through. “If Iran tries to block the Bab-el-Mandeb, I am convinced that it will find itself facing a determined international coalition to prevent this. This coalition would also include the State of Israel and all its arms,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday in comments released by his office, referring to the waterway known as the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a key artery for international oil shipping.

The Iranians have focused their threats on the closer and more significant Strait of Hormuz that links the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world. However, CNBC reported that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have already attacked Saudi oil tankers in the Bab-el-Mandeb, through which 5 million barrels of oil are shipped per day. While that’s less than a third of what goes through Hormuz, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is also more critical for Israel, as it links the Red Sea coast in Israel’s south to the Indian Ocean and is therefore the naval gateway for Asian trade with the Jewish State. Netanyahu specifically mentioned that Houthi attack in his comments, which were delivered to an Israeli naval officers’ graduation ceremony.

Meanwhile, the US believes that Iran is about to launch significant naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz. According to a report from Fox News, the US expects the drill to involve 100 gun boats and get underway this week. … Continue Reading

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