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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

IAF Targets Terrorist Sites in Gaza after Mortar Shell Attack

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

The Israel Air Force bombed a weapons manufacturing factory and two terror tunnels Tuesday evening in retaliation for a mortar shell attack on soldiers who were “engaging in a counter-terrorism activity,” according to military spokesman  Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

“The IDF maintains the right to combat terrorists abusing the Gaza Strip as a springboard for such attacks against Israeli civilians and its forces,” he added.

Reporting by Palestinian Authority media, often quoted without verification by foreign media, illustrates why Palestinian Authority Arabs cannot be expected to believe that Israel acts in self-defense.

Gaza sources said the aerial strikes hit “two chicken farms” and a Hamas tunnel, accord to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency.

It also said a fourth strike bombed an empty Islamic Jihad “training site.”

Earlier in the day, The Jewish Press reported here that a Hamas terrorist was killed and four others were wounded in a “work” explosion.

Hamas has renewed escalation of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers the past month after several weeks of relative quiet, a possible sign of weakness to divert its residents’ attention from poverty and economic pressure from Egypt in the form of occasionally shutting down the crossing into the northern Sinai from Rafiah.

Last Friday, Hamas marked one year since massive rocket fire on Israel that sparked the IDF’s Pillar of Defense counter-terrorism operation.

Terrorist commanders came out from underground to join a military parade.

Hamas commander Raed Sa’as, appearing in public for the first time in years, said, “Next time you [Israel] will not enjoy security in any spot on our occupied land. Our fighters are more capable, ready and trained. Our plans are more comprehensive and our arsenal is more developed.”

The military parade and escalation in rocket attacks, mortar shelling and planting of bombs near the IDF patrol road draws the attention of Gaza residents away from streets flooded by sewage following a power outage at a treatment facility.

Although Egypt has closed down smuggling tunnels that are a big income source for the Hamas regime as well as a source of goods and merchandise for residents, Palestinian Authority media both in Ramallah and Gaza blamed Israel for the “siege.”

Russia Gives Egypt Massive Bear Hug at US Expense

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Russia and Egypt are set to sign a major arms deal that is of similar value to the amount of aid the US had been sending to Egypt until it froze much of it last month, according to a report in Makor Rishon. The deal is valued at 1.2 billion Euro (1.6 billion dollars).

According to the report, unlike US aid, the Russian deal explicitly has no strings attached, and Russia says it will not get involved in local Egyptian politics.

Furthermore, at the meeting held two days ago, Russia said they would also direct Russian tourists to the visit the Egyptian pyramids, a move that would strongly bolster the local tourism economy that thrives mostly on those visits. Tourism is one of Egypt’s most important industries.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told General el-Sisi that Russia will support the Egyptian roadmap, respect the current [Egyptian] government, and have no intention of getting involved in the internal issues of another country.

He added that Russia is prepared to support Egypt in all areas to help restore the country. He described Egypt is a central partner in the Middle East with whom they have deep ties, and plan to deepen them further.

These statements are the exact opposite of those emanating from John Kerry and the US government, who have been placing conditions on continued US support for the current Egyptian government.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister was careful to point out that the new closeness between Egypt and Russia should not be viewed as coming at the expense of its relationship with the US.

Sure.

The US has tied aid to Egypt on progress towards democratic elections and a civilian government, while ignoring that democratic elections are what brought the radical Islamic Morsi government into power, that the Egyptian army was forced to overthrow.

Saudi Arabia has also pledged to match US aid to Egypt, as have some other Middle Eastern countries, making it unlikely that the US plan to reintroduce a radical Islamist democracy into Egypt unlikely.

Russian Navy’s First Port Visit to Egypt in 21 Years

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Suddenly, even Vladimir Putin looks more attractive.  He looks, at least, like he actually intends to fight radical Islamism – in some of its varieties anyway.  In theory, he has some pull with Iran.  He can exert a certain level of “check” on the Syria crisis.  His relatively well armed nation sits on the other side of Erdogan’s wild-card Turkey, which keeps bouncing from China to Iran to NATO and back again.  He’s not “Europe” – not really – but “Europe” acknowledges that he has to be given a place at the table.

Maybe he doesn’t look attractive, exactly; maybe the word is interesting.  Whatever it is, it’s showing up in real forms now, in regional nations’ decisions in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Last week came the flurry of reports that Putin would visit Egypt in November and announce a major arms sale, which will inevitably serve as something of a counter-smack to the U.S. decision to halt arms deliveries to Egypt a few weeks ago.

The newer news is from Monday, November 11, when Russia’s Slava-class missile cruiser Varyag pulled into Alexandria for the Russian navy’s first port visit in Egypt since 1992.  Pundits of varying quality have rushed to speculate that Moscow will soon have the use of Egyptian ports as bases in the region.  I doubt that; Egypt is too anxious to retain her stature and independence of action – properly so – and doesn’t “need” to accord Russia such privileges to keep useful ties going between the two of them.

In the current, comparative disarray of some Arab governments in the region, Egypt’s actually looks solid and moderate, and has the overt support of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, as well as the tacit support of Israel – all of which are well armed, well connected regional powers with common interests in a status quo.  The situation over which Al-Sisi presides is different from that of the Nasser regime in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was so eager for the great-power patronage of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Russia, for her part, is unlikely to press this issue.  Between Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Montenegro, and Malta, the Russian navy has a lot of options now for making temporary landfalls for logistics.  Moscow wouldn’t necessarily even save money by concluding more literal “basing” agreements in the Mediterranean.

But I’m sure we can expect to see the Russian navy welcomed in Egyptian ports.  This makes a noteworthy, and regrettable, contrast with the U.S. Navy, which has been scarce in Egyptian ports in recent years – in spite of our two nations’ close relationship – largely because of the threat of terrorism.

Egypt, meanwhile, isn’t the only nation to roll out the welcome mat for the Russian navy in the past year.  In May, the Russian amphibious ship Azov arrived in Haifa for the first port visit ever by a Russian navy ship to Israel.  Russia and Israel have of course found some common ground in their opposition to radical Islamism, and the Netanyahu government has had a robust program of diplomatic outreach to Russia since it took over in the spring of 2009.  After Putin visited Jerusalem in June 2012 to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple, a naval port visit could hardly have been far behind.

Russian warships also visited Lebanon in March 2013, an exceedingly rare occurrence.  According to Russia’s defense ministry, the visit involved a frigate and two amphibious ships, and signified no intention on Moscow’s part to establish any permanent basing arrangement.

Cyprus hosted multiple visits by Russian warships in 2013, fueling the usual speculation that Moscow is negotiating for basing rights on the island.  (See here for more on Russia’s strategic approach to Cyprus.)  It has become routine in the last few years for Russian navy ships to visit ports in Greece and Malta.  Russian officials announced earlier this year that the navy’s newly constituted (or, in effect, reconstituted) Mediterranean squadron would use a port in Montenegro as well, referring to the port of Tivat (which for many years during the Cold War was a Yugoslav navy base, used as a Mediterranean base by the Soviet navy).  A September 2013 press release on the upcoming activities of amphibious landing ship Yamal indicated the ship would visit Greece and Montenegro this fall.

Israel Finally Names New Ambassador to Egypt

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The Israeli foreign ministry has named Middle East specialist Chaim Koren as the next ambassador to Egypt after several months of being without an envoy. The government did not state when Koren will take up his new post.

He has been serving as non-resident ambassador to South Sudan. Koren speaks Arabic and previously has served on the embassy staff in Cairo as director of the ministry’s political planning division.

Anti-Israel violence following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi as president of Egypt forced Israel to law low diplomatically and pull outs embassy staff from Cairo.

US Losing Middle East Coalition

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Ever since the seventies, the world has become accustomed to the split in the Middle East, between those countries that support the West – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Israel, and we might add Turkey to this list as well, and those countries that were members of the opposing, Soviet, coalition: Syria, Libya, Iraq and South Yemen. Lebanon was then between the democratic hammer and the Syrian anvil.

Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the eighties, there were no big shifts in political orientation, and the countries that were faithful to the Western bloc led by the United States remained faithful to it until recently, mainly because a new hostile bloc was formed, led by Iran and supported by Russia and China. The stronger the Iranian threat became, the more the pro-Western countries depended on America for support.

Lately, however, the pro-Western coalition has begun to crumble, and two key countries – Saudi Arabia and Egypt – are searching for a new political crutch, ever since it became clear to them that the American crutch is nothing but “a broken reed” (Isaiah, 36:6). A few more countries can be added to this list, mainly Turkey and the Gulf Emirates.

Saudi Arabia

In an unprecedented move, the Saudi kingdom has refused to become a member of the most powerful body in the world, the Security Council of the UN, a body authorized to deal with the world’s security problems and, with the power of the authority vested in it, can even declare war as a world body on a country that violates its resolutions. The question that immediately arises is: why did Saudi Arabia refuse to become a member of the body that is perhaps the only one capable of dealing with Iran’s military nuclear project? Why did Saudi Arabia reject the opportunity to influence events in Syria from within the Security Council? Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia take advantage of the most important stage in international policy in order to take action against Israel?

The superficial reason is that which the Saudi foreign office published, expressing an ethical position: the kingdom will not agree to enter the Security Council until the Council undergoes reforms that will enable it to fulfill its role, which is to maintain world peace. The obsolete apparatus, the wasteful practices, and double standards used by the Security Council all prevent it from fulfilling its role. There are many examples of this: the Palestinian problem has not been solved despite it having been created 65 years ago, and despite the fact that the wars stemming from it have threatened the peace of the entire region and the world several times. The Council allows the Syrian dictator continue slaughtering his citizens for almost three years without imposing effective sanctions, and the Council has failed to achieve the goal of turning the Middle East into an area free of weapons of mass destruction because it has not managed to create an effective method of oversight for military nuclear projects.

Despite the fact that the Saudis do not speak specifically about Iran in their official announcement, it is clear that their reference is not to Israel, from whom they fear no danger, but to Iran, whose nuclear plans do keep them awake at night. However, it is specifically the Iranian nuclear issue which should have pushed Saudi Arabia to become a member the Council; membership could have granted them an active role in making decisions against Iran, so why not join?

In part, the reasons relate to the way that the Saudis see the international alignment of countries recently but is also connected to the customary culture of honor in the Middle East, without which it would be impossible to understand the behavior of the Saudis, proud sons of the desert.

First of all, a person of honor does not join a club where he is considered a class ‘B’ member. In the Security Council there are class ‘A’ members – the five permanent members (the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China) who have nuclear weapons and veto power, and there are class ‘B’ members – the ten countries with temporary membership, who are not allowed to attain nuclear weapons and do not have veto power. Saudi Arabia would in no way agree to be a class ‘B’ member of any organization, and would prefer not to join because honor is more important to it than anything else.

Putin to Visit Cairo, After US Abandons Ally Further

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit Egypt in November, the first Russian president to visit Egypt since Egypt lost the war with Israel in 1973, according to a report in Makor Rishon.

The visit will come on the heels of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Cairo in the beginning of November.

The presidential trip is part of a dramatic series of improvements in Cairo-Russian relations, clearly filling in the vacuum that the U.S. has almost inexplicably left behind.

The visit also comes following meetings between Jerusalem and Russia’s Foreign Ministry this week.

According to Sergey Vershinin, Russia’s director for Middle East affairs in their Foreign Ministry as well as Russia’s representative to the Quartet, Israel expressed deep concern about the the loss of U.S. aid to Egypt, and that if Egypt doesn’t find a new source of funding, the economic situation in the country will worsen and cause “instability”.

Vershinin said that Russia will be investing in improving Russia-Egypt relations, though he cautioned that it won’t return to the levels it was at under the USSR.

“We won’t be returning to the days of Aswan,” Vershinin said, referring to when Egypt began its romance and alliance with Russia, after the U.S. withdrew its offer invest in the Aswan Dam in 1956.

It may not return to those levels, but one certainly can’t deny the feeling of déjà vu.

Was Desperate Gaza Man, Ready to Sell His Daughter, Once My Boss?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

This story happened today, Thursday, but it goes back 30 years, when this writer was a greenhorn in Israel, trying to learn the Israeli culture.

A Gaza man was reported on Thursday to be prepared to sell his six-year-old daughter because he is so desperately poor.

“Hani al-Hadidi, 33, a construction worker from Gaza’s al-Shajaiya neighborhood, says he is struggling to provide for his wife and five children,” the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency reported. “No one dares to sell his children, but the hard situation we live in has forced me to make such a decision.”

The news site, closely affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, naturally followed this description of al-Hadidi’s dire state with the comment that Gaza “has been under a under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007.”

Now let’s go back 30 years to my greenhorn years, when I was trying to get the hang of Israeli culture after parachuting into Israel from planet America in October 1983.

By December, I was volunteering on the Jewish community of Atzmona in Gush Katif, which at that time was located a few hundred feet away from Rafiah. Even back then, Atzmona residents told me it was a drug smuggling capital.

I worked building greenhouses for a Jewish farmer named Chaim, but my foreman was Ahmed. That’s right, “Ahmed,” from Khan Yunis in central Gaza.

He had six children and told me life was good, he was making a decent living working for Chaim and that he could care less about politics.

Gaza’s few thousand Jews shopped in Khan Yunis and Gaza City for cheap vegetables and clothes. The Egged bus I took, when traveling north, rolled peacefully along the main drag through Gaza City.

Tens of thousands of Gaza Arabs worked in Gush Katif farming communities and in construction in the rest of Israel. Gaza was under Israeli control, but municipalities were run by Arabs, who – pardon the expression – never had it so good.

The unemployment rate in 1984, as seen in the chart below, was a miniscule 0.9 percent while it was four times that number for Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

I left Gush Katif in 1984 to learn more about other parts of Israel.

Three years later, an Arab in Gaza City stabbed an Israeli to death while he was shopping there. The following day, after four Arabs were killed in a traffic accident in Gaza, unfounded rumors spread the libel that Israelis had killed them as an act of revenge.

Arab blood was boiling, and the violence spun out of control, with a firebombing of an IDF patrol, mass rioting, blocked roads and tire burnings.

The Intifada was born and the unemployment rate began to rise.

In 1986, it was only 1.5 percent. By 1988, it climbed to 2.3 percent and then 3.8 percent in 1990.

Jews were thinking twice about employing Arabs because of terrorist attacks. In 1992, the jobless rate soared to 12 percent.

In the early 2000s, when Arabs were murdering Jews left and right, Arabs found themselves out of work not only in Gush Katif but also in the rest of Israel.  The unemployment rate soared to 50 percent  by 2003 and is estimated at more than 30 percent today.

Thirty years have passed since I worked for Ahmed in Khan Yunis.

I do not know Hanai al-Hadidi, the man who is ready to sell his daughter so she can eat and the family can have some income.

Maybe he is Ahmed’s son. Maybe not.

One can argue that money is not everything and that Arabs were deprived of their political rights, but the other half of the truth is that they had even less rights under Egyptian rule. The difference is that under Israeli rule, they can blame the Jews. If they had blamed Egypt, their lot would have been worse and they would not have gotten any sympathy from the anti-Zionist world, especially UNRWA, which has built up an empire than keeps more than half of Gaza’s population in bondage.

The facts are there, as they always have been there, but they are not facts that John Kerry want to see.

Is there anyone out there who can connect the dots between Ahmed and Hanai al-Hadidi?

Hezbollah Goes Paranoid, Captures Israeli ‘Spy Eagle’

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Headlines of fowl accused of spying for Israel are making the rounds again in Middle Eastern media, with the most recent bird of espionage being an eagle  “arrested” by Hezbollah  in Lebanon.

Local hunters caught the bird in the town of Achkout, who alerted authorities after discovering that the bird had an ID ring attached to its leg with the words “Israel” and “Tel Aviv University” printed on it, according to one Lebanese news site.

The Hezbollah- affiliated Al-Manar TV, whose news site’s Israel section is called “Enemy Entity,” claimed that the eagle was one of many birds sent by Israel to spy and gather information via GPS transmitters across the Middle East. The report pointed to the “arrest of birds carrying similar devices” in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and most recently in Egypt.

Tel Aviv University responded, “This morning, the media reported on an Israeli ‘spy” that was caught by Hezbollah. The ‘spy’ is a predatory fowl that was part of the one the research projects conducted by Tel Aviv University on raptors.”

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority stated that the eagle was born in a breeding center in southern Israel and had been released a couple of years ago.

Ohad Hatzofeh, one of the Tel Aviv University bird researchers who identified the eagle told Tazpit News Agency that he was “fed up” with the eagle ‘spy’ accusations.

If all of the Arab countries that have “caught” previous spies, such as a stork, a vulture and  pigeon, it only shows how paranoid they really are.

In July, Turkish authorities detained a bird on the suspicion that it was spying for Israel. The kestrel, referred to as the “Israeli agent” by Turkish press because it had metal ring with “Tel Avivunia Israel” on it, was placed in an X-ray machine at a university hospital and underwent a scan for bugging devices. After passing the surveillance, the Zionist spy was freed.

Egypt arrested a stork in late August for spying for Israel because of authorities were suspicious of the tracking device placed by scientists to record its migration. Eventually, the stork, called Menes, was freed but local villagers later ate the spy.

Saudi Arabia apprehended a vulture in 2011, accusing the raptor of being an Israeli spy because of a GPS device with the suspicious “Tel Aviv University” label on its leg. The vulture was eventually freed.

Sudan captured an Israeli hawk last year because tags reading “Israel Nature Authority” and Hebrew University Jerusalem, obvious stooges of the Mossad, were found on its legs.

In May 2012, Turkish authorities were sure they had foiled a Mossad ploy when they caught a European bee-eater.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/hezbollah-goes-paranoid-captures-israeli-spy-eagle/2013/10/16/

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