Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has instructed the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to ramp up oversight of materials entering the Gaza Strip. Major General Yoav Mordechai, commander of COGAT, said Thursday that the order was given in order to prevent raw materials requiring security clearance from reaching the Hamas-led canton.
“Any attempt to smuggle dual-use materials into Gaza without coordinating the shipments with [Israeli] security officials raises strong concerns that the materials are willingly being provided to terror operatives,” said Mordechai in a statement Thursday. ”The only goal these groups have is to harm the security of Israeli civilians. The responsibility for [preventing] smuggling does not only fall on the people ordering the materials, but also on [Israeli] companies and on truck drivers who transport the material that is intended for terrorism into Gaza.”
Liberman also said that companies that help smuggle materials into the Strip will be fined. At least one telecommunications firm has been advised that it will be fined hundreds of thousands of shekels for attempting to smuggle communications and fiber-optic cables. Defense officials believe the materials were intended for terror elements in the Strip.
Up to now, prohibited materials were confiscated at Gaza entry points, and truck drivers received warnings. The new policy was adopted following consultations with COGAT, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Land Border Crossings Authority of the Defense Ministry, Israel police and legal scholars.
The new policy calls for stiff penalties against all levels of the smuggling chain, from company administrators down to truck drivers. Possible sanctions include impounding trucks used for smuggling attempts, including the cargo. Fines for smuggling could reach approximately NIS 1 million (US $261,730). Used car parts will also be banned from the Strip, after security forces discovered parts in shipments that could be used to build a 4X4 jeep to be used by terror groups.
“We will hit back strongly and will not allow anyone to avoid responsibility. [We will try to ensure that] aiding terror simply does not pay,” Mordechai added.
PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Special Cabinet Meeting
“This is the first day in the State of Israel without the late Shimon Peres. Shimon Peres was among our greatest leaders, who left behind him a long trail of unique achievements. On behalf of the entire Jewish People, the citizens of Israel and the Government of Israel, I convey deep condolences to Shimon’s family.
Shimon Peres lived a life rich in deeds, which symbolize the history of a revived Israel – the life of an ancient people that marches, revived, on its land, the power of our people to defend itself, and is building up its homeland with sweat and courage.
When Shimon, as a youth, went to the Ben Shemen agricultural school, he wrote: ‘The goal of my life is to serve my people.’ He realized this goal. He believed with all his heart in the goals of Zionism and was a man of inspiring vision. Shimon accompanied the state since before its birth, stood by the cradle, and made sure that it could stand on strong legs. He was at the side of David Ben-Gurion during fateful decisions, at a time when the young Israel was fragile and its military strength had yet to be realized. Shimon greatly contributed to the building up of our strength. He made a unique contribution to the strengthening of our security both openly and in areas that are best left unspoken.
One of the summits of his life was the successful operation to free those of our people who had been hijacked to Entebbe. As Defense Minister in the government of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon played a crucial role in the decision to dispatch our planes and commandos into the heart of Africa. But alongside this, alongside all of his work on behalf of the security of Israel, Shimon Peres never stopped striving for peace and believing in peace. His hand was always extended toward historic reconciliation with our neighbors. Even if this reconciliation tarried, he taught us not to give in to despair but to cling to the hope and to continue working.
Shimon Peres was an MK for almost 50 years. He served as a minister in various governments in many and varied portfolios. He twice led our country as Prime Minister. He opened our international links, contributed to stabilizing the economy and worked greatly on behalf of immigration from the USSR and Ethiopia.
We all know that political life was not always kind to Shimon. Alongside his achievements, he also knew disappointment, he also knew difficult moments, he also knew pointed criticism. But through his great strength of will Shimon continued to move forward, imbued with the aspiration to advance the development of the country that he loved so much, and imbued with the aspiration to bring peace.
There were many things that we agreed on and the number of these grew over the years. But we also had our disagreements, which are a natural part of democratic life. Even in these instances, the respect that I felt for Shimon was never impaired. On the contrary, as time passed our relations became closer. I esteemed him. I loved him. During his tenure as President, we had many personal meetings, often lasting deep into the night. These were fascinating, in-depth meetings in which I learned to recognize the man, to recognize his life’s story and to listen to his thoughts.
Only two months ago I came with my wife to launch the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. We shared a common vision – a vision of progress and technology. Shimon saw the presence of Israel at the forefront of scientific and technological progress, and rightly so, as a key to human welfare, the key to peace. At that meeting I was stirred by his curiosity, his ability to mobilize a vision of the future world. After the ceremony, we sat for a long time. We arranged to meet again, to continue to promote the common vision of technology and innovation – and yes, also peace.
Unfortunately, this meeting will not take place. The prayer which I made on behalf of all citizens of Israel from the podium of the United Nations, the prayer that I offered for his recovery did not materialize. But our consolation is that so many things in the life of Shimon did come true. And the seven years of Shimon Peres’ presidency were a rejuvenation. He won the public’s bipartisan, cross-sector admiration. Love of the people was forthcoming and warmed his heart.
Shimon was a man of vision, he was a man of peace, he was also a man of letters, and without these two elements there can be no national revival. For all these reasons Shimon won worldwide international recognition. Heads of state sought him out and honored him. Many of them, along with us, will accompany him on his last journey to eternal rest in the soil of Jerusalem. Shimon’s work will yet remain with us for many generations. He will be enshrined in my heart always and etched in our hearts forever.
May his memory be blessed.”
President Reuven Rilvin
“This is a sad morning for all of us. There is not a chapter in the history of the State of Israel in which Shimon did not write or play a part. A man who was a symbol for the great spirit of this people. Shimon made us look far into the future. As one man he carried a whole nation on the wings of imagination, on the wings of vision, and we loved him dearly. We loved him even when we did not see things eye to eye, because he made us dare to imagine not what was once here, nor what is now, but what could be.”
Minister Miri Regev
“We are officially convening the ministerial Committee on Symbols and ceremonies, which today mourns the passing of former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. We are preparing for a very large and complex funeral that will coordinate very many elements. Here today is the Director General of the Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem District Police commander, as well as representatives from the Defense Ministry, Knesset, and the Prime Minister’s Bureau, among others. We are, in effect, working to coordinate the entire effort.
I would like to thank Minister Ofir Akunis and Minister Sofa Landver, who are present as members of the committee. We will work under the ‘Havatzelet’ protocol to facilitate a respectable funeral that will allow the citizens of the country and the world leaders who will arrive to pay proper respect to former President Peres. Therefore, as soon as the committee votes on its decisions, everyone will go to work in his area and we will meet from time to time on a more reduced basis to oversee coordination.
There will be several centers: The airport, to which the leaders will arrive. The second center is the Knesset. The third is Mt. Herzl, including the interment itself. There are many elements here that we will need to coordinate so that everything goes smoothly and respectably, despite all the constraints we are under and the complexity of the event. There is also, of course, Shabbat that we must take into account and see that we finish on time so that all of the police and other elements working on the event can return home in time for Shabbat.”
“Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, mourns the passing of the ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres and offers its sincerest condolences to his family and all of the people of Israel.
Former President Peres was a dedicated supporter of teaching the legacy of the Shoah, so that the Jewish people – and all humanity – may have a brighter future. Shimon Peres worked tirelessly to further the causes of justice and peace for all humankind.”
Israel Atomic Energy Commission
“Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) Director Ze’ev Senir and the commission’s employees and retirees mourn the passing of former President, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Shimon Peres. His work is interwoven with the work of the IAEC since its founding.
Shimon Peres substantially contributed to the establishment of the Negev Nuclear Research Center and the foundation of Israel’s nuclear policy as a significant contribution in ensuring the national strength of the State of Israel. His legacy will accompany the work of the IAEC in the future as well. May his memory be blessed.”
Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth President, former Prime Minister, Nobel Prize winner, who served for nearly five decades as a member of the Knesset, passed away on Wednesday morning at age 93, following a severe stroke. He will be buried in a state funeral in the plot on Mt. Herzl dedicated to the nation’s great leaders. Peres was married to the late Sonia Peres who died in 2011. They had three children: Tsvia Walden, Yonatan (Yoni) Peres, and Nehemia (Chemi) Peres.
Peres was born on August 2, 1923 as Shimon Perski (a relative of Lauren Bacall a.k.a. Joan Persky), in Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishnyeva, Belarus). In 1934, together with his mother Sara and younger brother Gershon, they followed his father, who made aliyah in 1932. Peres grew up in Tel Aviv and studied at the Ben Shemen agricultural school. He met Sonia in Ben Shemen and they got married in 1945.
Peres became active in the Socialist youth movement Hanoar Haoved and in 1947 was recruited by Levy Eshkol to serve in the Hagana underground headquarters, alongside Eshkol and David Ben-Gurion. In 1953, after a stint as head of naval services in the newly formed IDF, Peres was appointed (at age 29) as Director of the Defense Ministry by Ben-Gurion.
His mission, and greatest achievement as head of Israel’s fledgling defense apparatus, was to turn Israel into a nuclear power. Peres began negotiations with the French in October 1956, during the Sinai War, which was a collaboration of Israel, France and Great Britain to take over the Suez Canal from the revolutionary government in Cairo. Peres stressed Israel’s loyalty to France and the fact that a strong Israel is vital to the French national interest, seeing as the Egyptians were supporting the Algerian FLN underground whose aim was to expel the French from North Africa.
According to Peres’ biographer Michael Bar Zohar, the birth of the Dimona nuclear plant was an exciting tale of intrigue, as the promise to provide the technology was made by French Defense Minister Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury, but on the date set for signing the secret deal, the French government collapsed in the National Assembly. Peres was waiting for Bourgès in his chambers with a bottle of whisky, only to discover that his host was out of office and that his likely successor, Gen. Charles de Gaulle, objected to spreading French nuclear know-how. Peres took advantage of the fact that Bourgès would on occasion tell his wife that he was in a meeting with the Israeli visitor when he was actually meeting with his lover, and demanded to cash his chips with the fallen politician. They agreed to backdate the agreement to the day before, when Bourgès still had the authority to sign it. The Frenchman said “D’accord” and the deal to set Israel up as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East was signed — fraudulently.
In 1959, Peres was elected to the Knesset as member of the ruling Mapai Party, and continued to serve as MK and in various ministerial positions, including as prime minister, almost uninterruptedly for 48 years. In 1965, Peres followed his mentor Ben-Gurion out of Mapai, and formed, together with former Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, the Rafi party. After the 1967 war, an alignment of Mapai, Rafi and Ahdut Haavoda formed the Israel Labor Party, now also known as the Zionist Camp.
In 1973, after the Yom Kippur war which created a wave of anti-Labor sentiment in the public at large, and following the resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Dayan, only two labor senior politicians retained their public prestige: Shimon Peres and former Chief of Staff and Ambassador to the US Yizhak Rabin. Rabin won and went on to become prime minister, with Peres as his defense minister, and their campaign for the leadership of Labor started two decades of enmity combined with forced cooperation which culminated in Peres eventually presenting to Rabin the Oslo agreements as an almost fait accompli.
In 1976, as defense minister, Peres was responsible for the Antebe Operation. Meanwhile, his disagreements with Rabin led to the latter’s resignation and the 1977 elections that, for the first time in Israel’s history, placed Likud’s Menahem Begin at the country’s helm. In the 1980s, as Labor’s leader, Peres failed to gain a resounding victory over his rightwing foes, and ended up in a coalition government with Likud in which he and Yitzhak Shamir rotated in the role of prime minister. While serving as Shamir’s foreign minister, Peres launched the London Agreement, a precursor of the Oslo Accord, which was torpedoed by Shamir.
In 1992, with Rabin once again the leader, Labor won the elections and formed a narrow, leftwing coalition government that relied on the Arab votes in the Knesset. Peres and his emissary Dr. Yossi Beilin began secret, illegal negotiations with the PLO, which resulted in the August 20, 1993 Oslo deal. The agreement, which resuscitated a dying PLO and gave it dominion over the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, resulted, as many had predicted, in rivers of blood, as the Arabs residing in the newly formed Palestinian Authority launched a campaign of bombing and shooting attacks against Israeli civilian centers. In 1995, on the eve of the next elections, Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated and replaced by Peres.
In 1996 Peres lost his final bid for sole possession of the Prime Minister’s office when he lost the election to newcomer Benjamin Netanyahu. The televised debate between them showed the nation a tired, old political hack versus a youthful and well spoken leader. Netanyahu succeeded in forming his first coalition government despite the fact that his party had won by a mere 30,000 votes.
At that point, possibly the lowest in his political life, Shimon Peres reinvented himself and began the next phase in his career, as statesman inspiring an entire world. He founded the Peres Center for Peace, and although he continued to serve in the Knesset and was member of Ehud Barak’s security cabinet, his goals have changed. In 2005 Peres resigned from the Labor party to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government, to support the second assault on Jewish life in the 1967 liberated territories: the expulsion of the Jews of Gush Katif. His reward was his election by the Knesset to be Israel’s ninth president in 2007. He gained 58 out of the 120 MK votes in the first round (38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then threw their support to Peres in the second round and he received 86 votes, with 23 objections.
He spent his seven years in office in an indefatigable global activity, attending conferences, giving speeches around the planet, meeting world leaders and becoming synonymous with the image of Israel’s future as drawn by Israel’s leftwing. He maintained his rigorous schedule after the end of his term in 2014, until, two weeks ago, his body succumbed to a stroke.
His death marks the end of Israel’s generation of founding politicians. He will be remembered for his great contribution to the Jewish State’s military supremacy in the Middle East, but also for his grave mistakes in acting to reverse the same state’s remarkable territorial gains of 1967. May his memory be blessed.
Israel’s Defense Ministry has issued the largest ever technology tender, aiming to consolidate all the IDF data centers, in conjunction with the future project developing an IDF cloud, to the tune of an estimated $270 million. The plan calls for the winner, which must be an Israeli company, to contract with a foreign partner for the project of consolidating the entire IDF data into a few computer centers which will serve the IDF land, air and sea units.
The move, according to the Defense Ministry’s statement, is crucial to enabling the IDF to maintain the ongoing upgrading of its systems over the next decades. The migration of all this data will require a detailed examination of the existing systems, involving millions of decisions regarding what to keep and what to discard. Which is why the ministry is encouraging local IT companies to coalesce in order to qualify for the bid, and to then work in collaboration with one chosen foreign company.
The ministry is not interested in using the services of local data farm companies, at least not directly. The IDF wants to build its own data farms. Also, the new tender does not deal with buying cloud technology, because the military is already engaged in defining a tender for an exclusive IDF cloud. In their meeting with the press Thursday, IDF and Defense Ministry spokespersons assured reporters the two projects will remain distinct, so that the development of one will not hinder the other’s. At the same time, they expect the two systems — the future IDF data farms and the future IDF cloud — to act together eventually.
As the IDF is in the process of clearing out of its very expensive real estate in downtown Tel Aviv and moving to a new military city near Beer Sheva in the south, it is safe to assume that at least part of the new storage system will also be erected there, in the Negev desert.
Many in Israel’s technology media have noted that the biggest challenge facing the new data storage system would be the requirement that the Infantry, Armored Forces, IAF, and Navy be able to share it effectively, making the system work for them instead of against them. The challenges in this case have less to do with technology and more with ego. Back in 2006, the IDF decided to kill its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, one year after the $200 million project had been launched. The problem, according to a Globes report at the time, was that each corps selected a system that was specifically tailored to its requirements (either SAP- or Oracle-based), without regard for the need for a uniform technological and operating capacity across all branches.
Hopefully, the planners of the new tender have taken those issues into consideration. The IDF insists that the 2014 Gaza war marked a watershed in the new collaboration among the branches, and, besides, the IDF Chief of Staff has ordered collaboration as a priority, so they better collaborate.
Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Wednesday attempted to calm his followers’ fears regarding the imminent uprooting of the community of Amona in Benjamin Region, in a private recording distributed to activists over WhatsApp. Bennett stressed that he and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been trying to come up with a global, strategic solution that would remove the current threat hovering over thousands of housing units which are facing the same predicament as Amona. So far, attempts to introduce a legal mechanism that would offer fair market value to new Arab claimants against Jewish Homeowners across Judea and Samaria have been rejected by the court.
The left has been outright hostile to the idea, among other things because leftwing NGOs like Peace Now have based their very existence on seeking out potential Arab claimants to contest legal transactions between other Arab owners and the Jewish buyers. A fair market value solution would satisfy both the Arab claimants and the Jewish homeowners, but would leave many NGO agents without employment.
On Tuesday, Kipa published a letter from the residents of Amona, accusing the rightwing members of government, especially Bennett and Shaked, of a lackadaisical approach to Amona’s impending doom (a term actually used, in paraphrased form, by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman).
In the recording, obtained by Kipa, Bennett tells Habayit Hayehudi activists that he and Shaked “have decided to use a strategic solution and to stop gong after local solutions the way did in Amona and in Gush Etzion.” He continued: “Right now Ayelet and I are laboring very seriously over a single, large-scale strategic move which would solve all our problems.”
Bennett suggested several options, including the application of the Edmund Levy committee report which recommended imposing Israeli law on Area C of Judea and Samaria. “It might be a change in the government’s decision, it could also be the arrangement law,” Bennett said, referring to a bill being promoted by coalition MKs that compels Arab claimants to accept fair market value for their claims—a bill that was rejected four years ago by Prime Minister Netanyahu. But no matter which solution they choose, it’s going to go into effect within the next few weeks, Bennett promised in the recording.
Bennett blamed on previous Netanyahu governments the current mess in Amona, where as many as 17 homes have been slated for demolition by the Supreme Court, in a community that was designed and supported by the State. He voiced his support for an outline suggested by the Amona residents, known as the Absentee Property outline. Absentee property was the way the State of Israel in the past dealt with thousands of properties that had been left behind by Arabs who fled to Jordan and Egypt during the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence. “After much resistance we have been able to pass the outline in the government, but we don’t yet have a complete guarantee that it would pass.”
As usual, the one possible deciding vote to kill a market value bill or a realignment of Amona, in a government with a decisive, pro-settlements majority, is the man at the helm, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who probably does not relish a new battle with the Administration during the lame duck season.
Justice Minister Shaked on Wednesday told Army Radio that the Amona residents share in the blame for their current emergency, since a year ago the Defense Ministry had offered them an alternative settlement near Shilo, and they refused. She acknowledged, however, the validity of their absentee property solution and promised to pursue it in the cabinet.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said today in private talks closed to the media during a tour of Bedouin communities in southern Israel that the bodies of two dead IDF soldiers held by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza will not be returned, Israel’s Channel 10 television news reported Monday night.
Liberman said he opposes any form of dialogue with Hamas that would comprise a “deal” with the terrorist organization similar to that which freed former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held hostage in Gaza by the group for more than five years.
Israel was forced to free more than a thousand Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners in order to retrieve Shalit, including hundreds of murderers with the blood of numerous Jews on their hands.
IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin were killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, and both of their bodies were stolen during the conflict by Hamas. Their bodies have since been held hostage by the terrorist group in Gaza.
The Goldin family responded sharply to Liberman’s statement, saying he cannot continue to serve as defense minister, Channel 10 reported.
Following the broadcast of those remarks, the Ministry of Defense clarified Liberman’s statement in a separate release.
In response to the Channel 10 report, the ministry underlined in a statement: “Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman did not refer today or in recent days to the issue of returning the bodies of IDF soldiers Shaul or Goldin.
“The minister opposed, and has always opposed, any deal-making whatsoever for captives held by terrorists, up to today.
“One might remember that Minister Liberman also voted against the negotiations over former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit (for his eventual release from captivity).
“[Minister Liberman] held the opinion at that time that it is wrong to allow anyone to believe that terrorism pays.”