Posts Tagged ‘package’
Despite it’s Muslim Brotherhood government, the US has decided to send 20 more F-16 fighter planes to Egypt, FoxNews reports.
Egypt already has 200 planes, and these 20 are part of an order placed by the U.S., for former president Hosni Mubarak 2 years ago, as part of a $1 billion dollar foreign package to Egypt.
With Islamic Egypt cozying up to Iran, and the Israel-Egypt peace treaty on the rocks, is sending them the most advanced F-16s that Lockheed Martin makes the best of ideas right now? You would think with problems that Egypt faces, sending food and teachers might be a far more wiser use of that money.Jewish Press News Briefs
While Americans pondered the implications of a presidential strategy involving “Big Bird, Binders, and Bayonets” over the last day and a half, things have been heating up in the Levant.
Hamas launched 68 rockets at Israel in the space of 12 hours, from the evening of 23 October to the early morning of the 24th – a sustained level of fire more consonant with a tactical offensive than with the more typical Hamas campaign of occasional “pinprick” attacks. Most of the rockets were short-range projectiles, not susceptible to intercept by Iron Dome. But Iron Dome intercepted 7 longer-range rockets. Two foreign agricultural workers reportedly sustained serious injuries, and a handful of others received lighter injuries. There was damage to some buildings.
Israeli forces took out two of the Hamas teams firing rockets from Gaza, and attacked tunnels through which weapons are smuggled.
In the early dawn of 24 October, meanwhile, an arms factory in Sudan was attacked. The arms factory is located in the Yarmouk Industrial Complex approximately 6 miles south of central Khartoum (see map below). Video of the exploding building makes it clear that it was an arms factory, with an extended series of powerful secondary explosions characteristic of ammunition dumps. (H/t: Challahu Akbar) A Sudanese official claims that four Israeli aircraft conducted a strike on the factory.
Site of Yarmouk Industrial Complex south of Khartoum; Wikimapia map.
Media reporting has suggested for more than a decade that Iran set up an arms factory in Sudan in the 1990s. (U.S. intelligence suspected a Sudanese factory of producing weaponizable chemical agents in the ‘90s, and the Sudanese government of complicity in supplying al Qaeda. This led to a Tomahawk missile attack on the factory by Bill Clinton after the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Iran was not implicated by U.S. intelligence in this installation.) Tehran is Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir’s chief foreign patron – well suited to his penchant for atrocities against his non-Muslim population – and of course is also the main supplier of arms to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Members of the Sudanese opposition have told reporters the arms factory that was hit was Iranian-sponsored. This is very probable, and it is equally probable that the attack was, in fact, conducted by the IAF. Sudan to Egypt to Gaza is a known arms route, and during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, when Israeli forces were going after Hamas in the wake of more than 4400 rocket attacks from Gaza up through December 2008, two arms convoys intended for Hamas were attacked on the roads through northern Sudan. Another convoy for Hamas was reportedly attacked in Sudan in December of 2011. (A peculiar report from early 2009 also suggested that a ship – possibly carrying arms – had been sunk in or near a Sudanese port. While fun to analyze, the report could not be considered definitive.)
Cutting off the flow of Iranian arms to Hamas is clearly a national security interest for Israel. The 24 October attack may or may not have been launched “because of” the rocket barrage from Hamas; it was certainly planned much earlier, but was probably executable on short notice, pending the weather conditions. Perhaps a more reliable construction to put on the Yarmouk attack, however, is that Israel sees a need to accomplish something more definitive than interdicting convoys. The time has come to administer a setback from which Hamas – and Iran – can’t recover quickly.
Another consideration for Israel may be that the window for unopposed action in Sudan might close in the not-too-distant future. Getting strike-fighters into Sudan means routing them over the Red Sea and keeping an airborne tanker aloft there, with its own fighter protection. Saudi Arabia and Jordan have the means to know the IAF aircraft are there, but they aren’t likely to interfere with Israeli attacks on Iranian arms facilities or arms bound for Hamas.
Potential path of an IAF strike package to Sudan; GraphicMaps.com map.
Egypt, however, also has the means to know the IAF aircraft are operating – and Egypt’s posture could well be changing. Mohammed Morsi is not a naïve target for an Iranian charm offensive, but for his own reasons – Islamist ideology and his designs on Jerusalem – he will reach the point at which he will not be willing to stand by quietly for Israeli operations in Sudan.J. E. Dyer
The online Irish website, TheJournal, reports that the Israeli embassy in Dublin was evacuated early Tuesday afternoon after a suspicious package was discovered.
An army bomb disposal team was sent to the site.
Hattip: Challah Hu AchbarJewish Press News Briefs
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Turkish journalists that Israel has “no reason to apologize” for the Mavi Marmara incident.
In a meeting on Sunday with the journalists in Jerusalem, Liberman said that Israel is ready to discuss the incident and would consider the issue of an apology as part of a package including other issues, such as Iran, Gaza and Hamas, the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported. He said current developments in the region made it important for Turkey and Israel to normalize relations.
Liberman called the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, a “clear provocation, and it was our right to protect the lives of our soldiers. Frankly speaking, Israel has no reason to apologize,” he said.
Nine Turkish nationals, including a Turkish-American man, were killed in clashes during the May 31, 2010 raid by Israeli commandos.
It was Liberman’s first meeting with a Turkish delegation since the incident.JTA
The austerity package passed by Spain’s parliament last Thursday has done little to calm economic jitters worldwide, with the effects being felt in Israel as the Bank of Israel (BoI) is set to decide today whether to lower its key interest rate for a second straight month.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party pushed through the controversial plan to cut state spending by some $80 billion, despite stiff resistance from opposition parties. The package includes a rise in the Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate from 18 percent to 21 percent and the reduction of unemployment benefits. Spain is struggling with an unemployment rate of around 25%, and has sought to ease its banking crisis by obtaining a bailout from the Eurozone.
On the same day that the austerity package was passed, German parliament approved an aid package for the Spanish banking sector worth approximately $146 billion. Many commentators in Germany expressed concern over the utility of another bailout. German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented: “The reality is that Spain is getting aid with loosened conditions. Soon Italy will ask, too. And the other reality is that, instead of investors, once again (mainly German) taxpayers will have to pay for the faulty speculation of banks.”
In Israel, the opening of the trading week on Monday morning saw the shekel-dollar exchange rate crossing the NIS 4/$1 line. The current shekel-dollar rate is at a three-year high, while the shekel-euro rate is 0.68% lower, at NIS 4.8705/€1. Later on Monday, the BoI is expected to announce its key interest rate for August, with some analysts speculating that the rate will be lowered for a second straight month, from 2.25% to 2%. Last month, the BoI cut the rate from 2.5% to its current rate.
Moti Bassok and Ram Ozeri, writing in Haaretz, explained that while a cheaper shekel makes Israeli imports more enticing, lower interest rates diminish foreign demand for shekel-based investments – which in turn tends to lower the shekel’s value. Supporters of an interest rate cut cite recent slower economic growth and weak foreign trade figures. The recent performance of Spanish government bonds have heightened fears that Spain will require much more assistance than last week’s $146 billion bailout, and Spain’s fiscal difficulties are causing the Euro to tumble, reaching a new low of approximately $1.2083/€1.
Israel is watching the continuing European debt crisis warily, as the European Union is Israel’s top trading partner. But despite Europe’s economic woes and trepidation in Israel, the EU is set to intensify relations with Israel by approving up to 60 new cooperative initiatives, according to AFP.
The initiatives are expected to be endorsed on Tuesday at the the annual Israel-EU Association Council meetings in Brussels. Predictably, they are sparking indignation from certain corners, as they come only two months after the EU’s statement condemning Israel for actions that “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible” – ie. settlement building, “settler extremism,” and “provocations against Palestinian civilians.”
According to AFP, the initiatives will include heightened cooperation in the energy and transportation sectors, and more closely-coordinated relations with a variety of EU agencies.
A European diplomat, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, was critical of increasing bilateral relations, saying: “Once again we’re hearing critical words on the one hand but it’s business as usual on the other…EU statements on the peace process are no more than theatre.”
Paul Hirschson, deputy spokesman at Israel’s foreign ministry, pointed out that the increased cooperation “is related to the existing work plan rather than some sort of upgrade, because that way the EU would have to find a way of delinking it from the peace process.”
In 2008, Israel’s attempt to enhance ties with the EU was stifled when the bloc suspended discussions because of Israel’s offensive against the Hamas regime in Gaza. It thereafter declared that any progress in bilateral relations would be conditional on progress in the Middle East peace process.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman left for Brussels on Monday and will be attending a meeting of the Israel-EU Association Council.Jewish Press Staff
The debate over the merits of circumcision, which seems to have stirred up a lot of talkback action on the Jewish Press website, may be taking a turn in yet another unexpected direction.
According to the website AllAfrica, the Government of Uganda is planning to circumcise 4.2 million men aged between 15 and 49 by 2015. This is because, according to the Government, this group is vulnerable to the HIV/ AIDS pandemic.
Speaking during a meeting on safe male circumcision and elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) on Monday, the acting program manager of the country’s STD/AIDS control project, Dr. Joshua Musinguzi, said if the scale of circumcision is increased, it would reduce HIV infections.
He emphasized that circumcision is not the only form of prevention of HIV/AIDS, but part of a comprehensive package. Other means include abstinence, faithfulness and condom usage, dubbed the ABC approach.
“Circumcision is part of a major package that we are promoting in the country,” Musinguzi said.Jewish Press News Briefs