Israel can thank Greenpeace activists for unintentionally alerting the country to a security lapse that terrorists could exploit to throw Israel into a blackout by blowing up the site, causing mass casualties and shutting down the electricity grid
Six Greenpeace activists managed to infiltrate Noble Energy’s off-shore gas terminal in the port of Ashdod Monday morning, and the pro-environment group said two of its members roamed freely within the sensitive site for an hour and a half.
They entered the 25-acre site by climbing ladders to bridge the fence around the terminal, setting off the warning system. Globes reported that the activists could have caused a shut-down of electricity to a large area of the country if they had done extensive damage.
The infiltrators were demonstrating their support for energy and opposition to Israel’s reliance on natural gas from the giant offshore energy fields discovered in the past three years off the Mediterranean Coast. Israel now produces more than half of the country’s electricity with natural gas.
Police arrested and then released all six activists, who were dressed up as the sun to show their support for solar energy.
But what if terrorists and not environmentalists had scaled the fence around the terminal?
It would have taken only a small amount of explosives to blow to smithereens the only network that carries gas to the terminal.
Anyone in the area probably would have gone up in smoke during an explosion, which would have severely crippled Israel’s dream of energy independence. Damage to the site would have forced a shut down to electricity in a large part of the country, causing financial and social chaos.
Nobel put on the stiff upper lip after the infiltration and stated, “The Greenpeace activists were handed over to the police. The matter is being investigated with the appropriate parties.”
Yitzchak Tshuva, one of the investors in the Tamar gas field said that no desecration of the Shabbat or Pesach holiday happened with the gas flow, according to a report in Kikar Shabbat.
“Shabbat is the source of our blessing,” Tshuva said. He emphasized that no ceremony was held on Shabbat or the Holiday.
Tshuva said that all the work was being done by Noble Energy, the operating partner in the gas field, and they began the process weeks ago. The gas arrived into Israel on the eve of the last day of Pesach, and that the flow of the gas is an ongoing process which took time until it reached Ashdod.
Yitzchak Tshuva expressed regret that the gas flow’s arrival physically into Israel was being presented as having desecrated the Shabbat or the Pesach Holiday.
After about four years rife with many delays, and after great difficulties in obtaining funding for the Tamar drilling platform, at precisely 4 PM Saturday natural gas began to flow from the site, 56 miles off shore, to the Yam Tethys reservoir in Ashdod.
The first injection was supposed to be done the day before, on Friday, but was delayed due to disagreements with officials at the Ministry of Energy, who tried to add last minute additional conditions before issuing the final permit to let the gas flow to Israel.
The use of the gas will commence within 24 hours. The gas is transferred from the sea through a special pipeline installed along the bottom of the sea to the Yam Tethys reservoir. It will flow from there to a gas absorption station in Ashdod and transferred from there to company customers: Electric Company power stations, and private power plants owned by the refineries in Haifa and Ashdod and Israel’s petrochemical plants.
Tamar natural gas is being produced thanks to huge investments totaling billions of dollars from a host of companies, mainly Noble Energy which owns 36% of the gas, and which also did the actual drilling at Tamar. Its three partners are: Delek Drilling (31%), Isramco (29%) and Dor Alon (4%).
The Tamar gas reservoir contains enough natural gas to support the Israeli economy’s needs for 25-30 years. The other big drilling site, Leviathan, is expected to provide the needs of the local economy for another 50 years. Absent any export sales, these two drilling platforms will enable Israel to achieves energy independence for more than 75 years.
The two sites also promise Israeli citizens cheaper energy sources, which are also less polluting than diesel and fuel oil.
The Bank of Israel estimates that the anticipated tens of billions received as taxes from the new sites, Israel’s economy may generate an additional growth rate of as much as 2 percent per year. Israel’s remarkable 2010 growth rate of 5% has slowed to 4.6% in 2011, and 3.3% in 2012. These rates have still outpaced most of the world’s industrial economies, and a close to 50% boost in growth from the new energy source could put Israel ahead of much of the free world in terms of economic activity.
The new Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom said on Saturday afternoon that this is an “historical moment,” pointing out that it was only fitting that on the holiday of freedom, Israel is achieving energy and economic freedom.
“This day raises great pride,” Shalom said, adding that “the Tamar gas production will decrease the electric company’s production costs and will lead in the future to reducing the cost of power to the Israeli consumer.”
Businessman Yitzhak Tshuva, one of the main owners of the reservoir, said: “The vision became a reality. Now we’re going once again out of bondage. From dependence on foreign energy sources, we’ve come to blue and white natural gas independence. This is a great achievement for the Israeli economy and the beginning of a new era.”
Tshuva estimates that “this project will change the face of the Israeli economy and ensure the state’s energy independence. This is a new era full of opportunities for the Israeli economy, which can use the advantages of natural gas environmentally, geo-politically, socially and economically, and turn Israel into a major international player.”
Rabbi Israel Stern l, the Neshchizer Rebbe of blessed memory passed away Tuesday night. He was 50 years old. In recent years the Rebbe became seriously ill and last month his condition deteriorated and he became very weak.
The late Neshchizer Rebbe was the son of Rabbi Meir Stern, Rav of Moshav Meron, and the son in law of the late Shomrei Emunim Rebbe.
The Neshchizer Rebbe served his followers for many years in Ashdod. A source in his close circle told Kikar HaShabbat that even while he was severely ill, he was determined not to change his daily agenda despite his pain.
Rebbe Mordechai of Neshchiz, who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was renowned among the hasidim as an authority on the arrival of the messiah, and whenever a rumor had sprouted about the arrival of our redeemer, the Neshchizer Rebbe was consulted.
The funeral was held at 10 AM, at the Rebbe’s beit midrash in Ashdod, and at 2 PM it will proceed from the Shomrei Emunim beit midrash in Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives cemetery.
Reports indicate that a Grad rocket has hit a children’s school in Ashkelon. No injuries were reported.
The population of Ashkelon is estimated around 110,000 people.
The 122 mm Grad rockets used in Gaza have a range of about 25 miles, and can reach the cities of Ashdod, Beer-Sheva, Ashkelon, Gedera, Rehovot, Ofakim, Kiryat Gat, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi and Gan Yavne. Most of the rockets are made in Iran, but some are made in China. They are believed to be smuggled in through Egypt.
Crime must go on, even during a time of war in Israel. This morning, the residents of the town of Gan Yavneh, not far from Ashdod and well within the range of Gazan rockets, woke up to the sound of a loud explosion. An EMT unit rushed to the area and discovered a car that had been blown up, most likely by local criminals. The driver was critically injured and died at the scene despite attempts to revive him.
11:13 PM AnIsraeli was injured in rock attack near Kiryat Arba. He was transported to Hadassah Hospital, unconscious with a severe head injury.
The number of rock and firebomb attacks in Judea and Samaria has been very high on Sunday.
9:03 PM In response to increasing tensions in the Middle East, New York police increase security on Synagogues in the city. 8:50 PM El-Al giving major discounts to Israelis overseas who receive emergency call up orders.
7:25 PM Iron Dome systems knock down missiles over Gush Dan/Tel Aviv area. Sirens send residents running to shelters.
6:20 PM: Hamas operator killed along with his family by Israeli rocket. This brings the overall death toll in Gaza since the start of Pillar of defense to 66.
6:12 PM Ben Gurion university in Be’er Sheva will remain closed tomorrow.
6:10 PM IDF has hit 50 terror infrastructure spots in the Gaza strip today.
5:39 PM: Gaza City is in partial darkness this evening. There’s no telling whether the electric power was cut by the Hamas or by Israel.
5:25 PM: Over the course of the day, the IDF has targeted over 50 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including under-ground rocket launching sites and terror tunnels, inflicting severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the IDF targeted Hamas’ operational communication infrastructures in the northern Gaza Strip, which are used for issuing orders to operatives as well as the spreading of propaganda. In addition, the IDF targeted a launching site, from which a rocket was fired towards the city of Tel Aviv, as well as several Hamas-affiliated terrorist squads. (IDF)
5:20 PM: IDF artillery fire hitting the Gaza Strip
5:00 PM Air raid siren in S’dot Negev.
4:56 PM 4 rockets land in Eshkol region, no reports of injuries.
4:46 PM Once more, Israeli press talking about representatives going to Cairo to discuss a cease fire. UPDATE: Both Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Liberman say there will be no talking while rockets falling.
4:44 PM Rockets fired at S’derot and Sha’ar HaNegev. 4:29 PM Preliminary reports: 4 wounded, one seriously, one moderately in the Ofakim region. UPDATE: 2 seriously wounded. Rocket hit next to car.
UPDATE: 5 wounded, 2 adults and 2 year old daughter were in a car and two passersby.
4:18 PM Sirens going off in S’dot Negev and Sha’ar HaNegev. 7 rockets fired. Most fall in open areas.
4:05 PM Channel 2 TV reports that a car near Ofakim was hit by a rocket, and there are 4 wounded; 2 moderately, 2 lightly.
4:04 PM US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Schapiro met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and reviewed the new Iron Dome (5th installation) protecting Greater Tel-Aviv and promised another 300 Million Dollars — for their to be a total of 13 Iron Dome installations. (source)
3:56 PM Reports of rocket strike in Negev area. MDA forces responding.
3:13 PM Air Raid sirens in Eshkol region 3:10 PM In a lightening fast operation, the IDF Homefront command fixed a number of sirens in Central Israel that were not working well over the past few days.
3:04 PM Air Raid Sirens in Eshkol region
2:46 PM Video of Iron Dome taking out GRAD rockets less than an hour ago.
2:45 PM Two GRAD rockets taken out by Iron Dome (fired at Ashdod area
2:21 PM Direct hit on a house in Ashkelon….no injuries.
2:15 PM Reports that the last barrage of rockets towards Ashdod and area was over 15 rockets in one shot.
2:10 PM Air Raid Sirens as another rocket barrage is headed for Ashkelon.
2:05 PM Another rocket hits Ashdod. Forces responding to 2 locations.
2:02 PM Iron Dome working overtime to take out Grad rocket strike on Ashdod and area….
2:01 PM Another Air Raid Siren in Ashdod….GRAD rocket lands in Ashdod…forces responding.
1:44 PM Notice to Ashdod residents. IDF sappers are going to explode a fallen rocket soon. If you hear a boom, its a controlled explosion.
1:40 PM 3 rockets land in Beer Sheva. No Injuries.
1:26 PM Air Raid Sirens in Beer Sheva area.
1:23 PM IDF dropping leaflets into Gaza: Important Message to Gaza Strip residents: Hamas is playing with fire and endangering your lives for naught. The IDF is proceeding to the next phase. For your own safety, we ask you to adhere to our instructions and distance yourselves from Hamas operatives and infrastructure. Sincerely, THE IDF.
1:21 PM Israeli Government meeting to decide on IDF ground incursion (Udi Segal, Channel 1 TV)
1:14 PM Reports of a direct hit in Sederot. Unconfirmed, as MDA and Homefront command responds.
1:04 PM Another barrage of rockets over Southern Israel for the past 15 minutes
12:26 PM IDFSPOX: Rocket fell in Ashkelon near a nursery school.
12:15 PM Siren in Ashdod.
12:08 PM Syria claims IDF killed 3 Syrian soldiers, after IDF shot back at Syrian army position that shot at them on Saturday night.
11:59 PM Ashkelon Beach
11:47 AM IDF takes out launch team that shot at Tel Aviv
11:34 AM Serious injury in Shaar Hanegev from Rocket
11:20 AM Sirens going off in S’derot
11:15 AM Two more rockets shot down over Ashdod.
11:13 AM Rocket fell a short time ago in Ashkelon causing minor damage to a building. More sirens sounding there now.
11:04 AM Sirens in Gan Yavne and Gadera. Also Nitzanim, Beni Aiyish, Chatzor, Ashdod, Iron Dome knocking down rockets.
11:01 AM Two wounded lightly after hit building courtyard in Ashkelon. Car damaged by rocket parts crashing down in Holon.
10:48 AM Warning sirens in Holon, Ashdod. Rocket lands in Ashdod, security forces on their way. 10:39 AM Air raid sirens in Rishon L’Tzion, Givatayim, Gan Raveh.
10:33 AM: Iron Dome intercepted two rockets fired at Tel Aviv.
10:32 AM: Sirens in Tel Aviv, Rishon L’Tzion, Givatayim and Ramat Gan.
10:31 AM: A volley of Rockets fired at Regional Counsil Eshkol, one lands inside a village.
10:30 AM: Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over Ashdod.
10:29 AM: Sirens in Ashdod and Ashkelon.
10:20 AM: Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip has opened and trucks carrying medicine and food are moving into into Gaza City.
10:29 AM Hamas: Using human shields is our policy.
10:26 AM Conflicting reports: High ranking Hamas member – Cease fire within a day or two. High ranking Israeli parliamentarian - We’re not stopping anytime soon.
10:18 AM IDF has, in principle, authorized plans for entry of ground troops into Gaza.
10:17 AM 3 rockets knocked down over Ashdod.
10:05 AM Siren in Ashdod
10:00 AM Most rockets from Northern Gaza.
A number of countries have expressed interest in buying Iron Dome systems.
Islamic Jihad #2 says, “From the first rocket to the last bullet, everything we have is from Iran.” (Galei Tzahal)
9:56 AM Mortar land inside community near Gaza. Shrapnel damage to building. No injuries.
9:55 AM Rocket fell in Be’er Tuvia region. Open area. No injuries.
9:51 AM ALL the rockets landed in open areas from the massive barrage!
New Alert in Shaar haNegev
9:45 AM 2 rockets taken out by Iron Dome over Ashdod.
9:42 AMMASSIVE rocket barrage on its way to southern Israel, all along Gaza region, over 40 areas listed. Iron Dome Responding
9:32 AM Eshkol Region Siren
8:38 AM: A Grad rocket hit a residential building in Ashkelon, one resident injured. A second missile hit a car in the city, and two rockets landed in open areas out of town.
8:02 AM: Two rockets fell and exploded in an open area in the Regional Council Eshkol.
7:08 AM: Overnight, IAF aircraft targeted dozens of underground rocket launchers, causing severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of Hamas and other terror organizations.
A short while ago, two sites in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted: Saraya – a Hamas primary training base and command center – and a communications antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the State of Israel. A number of training bases owned by Hamas were also targeted throughout the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Israeli Navy soldiers targeted terror sites on the northern Gaza shoreline.
The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of months.
6:50 AM Sunday Morning Update
Shimon Ben-Hamu (23), a resident of Tekoa was killed on Saturday night when his car was hit by a large rock thrown at his car. Ben-Hamu lost control, the car overturned, and he was killed. (HNN)
After midnight, Israel saw a noticeably visible decrease in rockets shot from Gaza. While Israel continues to hit terrorist sites, some air attacks were called off due to the presence of too many civilians above the terror target sites (human shields). We are not yet speculating as to the reasons why Hamas fired less missiles overnight.
The Palestinian appealed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and asked him to stop the Israel attacks, saying Israel was in violation of the Geneva convention.
Gazans are reportedly terrified of an Israeli ground invasion, and many have picked up and moved to the center of Gaza.
There are unconfirmed reports that some of the journalists that Hamas took as Human Shields may have been injured in an IAF strike. This is still unconfirmed and will be updated as soon as we know more.
Rumors continue to fly about a possible Cease-Fire. Netanyahu denies the rumor is true.
12:39 AM (Sunday) Shooting attack at IDF forces from Syria in the Golan Heights near Tel-Chazeka. No injuries to IDF forces, which returned fire.