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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Red Sea’

Gaza Businessmen to Meet with Egyptians on Improving Economic Situation

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

A delegation of Gaza businessmen and civil society professionals will travel to Egypt on Sunday for a conference on the current economic situation in the impoverished Gaza Strip, Ma’an reported Saturday.

Osama Kheil, a spokesman for the union of contractors in Gaza, told Ma’an that the 38 businessmen from Gaza had been invited to the “Ain Sokhna 2” conference, organized by the National Center for Middle East Studies.

Ain Sokhna (Arabic: the Hot Spring) is a resort town on the western shore of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Eilat, some 75 miles east of Cairo.

The conference will discuss the economic situation in Gaza and strategies for improving the dire living conditions of the civilian population. The Gazan delegation will emphasize the need for coordination with Egyptian authorities in regards to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which serves as a lifeline for Gazans, in the hope of “keeping the border open as long as possible.”

In October 2014 Egypt announced plans to expand the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, following a terrorist attack from Gaza that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. The buffer was “a move meant to halt the passage of weapons and militants through cross-border smuggling tunnels but which also puts more pressure on the Palestinian militant Hamas group.” Egyptian authorities ordered residents living along the eastern border to evacuate their homes prior to their demolishing. The new 1,000 yard wide buffer zone includes water-filled trenches that block tunnel diggers along the 8 mile.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities demolished between July 2013 and August 2015 at least 3,255 residential, commercial, administrative, and community buildings along the border, forcibly evicting thousands of people.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas agreed with the Egyptian operation, saying the smuggling tunnels under the border had produced 1,800 millionaires, and were used for smuggling weapons, drugs, cash and forgery equipment. The total cost to the Gazan economy was estimated at $70 million. On September 11, 2015, the Egyptian army began to pump water from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas condemned the flooding saying it posed a serious threat to Gaza’s environment and ground water. In November 2015, large areas of soil collapsed as a result of the flooding, threatening homes in Rafah. Salt water came out of the ground, contaminating the soil, making it unusable for agriculture.

Or, as the Ma’an report put it on Saturday: The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade.

JNi.Media

Report: Israel to Purchase New German Submarines Targeting Iran, Syria

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Israel and Germany have begun top echelon political and security negotiations of the purchase of new Dolphin class submarines, Israel Defense reported Friday. The IDF’s five-submarine fleet, its most expensive weapons system, is its longest arm in a potential war with a nuclear Iran. The purchase of the sixth submarine was an option that was part of the 2012 deal signed between the two countries, with Germany paying for about a third of the cost of each sub — $180 million out of half a billion dollars.

In the past the IDF’s strategic thinking regarding the submarine fleet was in dispute between former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert accused Barak of planning to buy a sixth submarine not because this was what the IDF needed (then Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was vehemently against such a purchase) but because the Germans bribed him. Eventually, it was Olmert who ended up being sentenced to prison over  taking a bribe. Takes one to know one?

The reason Lieut. Gen. Ashkenazi was against the deal was that it was being paid for out of the shekel part of the IDF budget, rather than the US aid dollars.

As the new Dolphin class submarine arrives, in 2018, one of its older sisters will be decommissioned. Despite past IDF reluctance, the Israeli Navy has now developed a five-submarine strategy, and will buy two more new Dolphins to replace older ones, all with German subsidies.

The diesel-electric Dolphin 2-class submarines, developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG for the Israeli Navy, are the largest submarines to have been built in Germany since World War II. Each Dolphin-class submarine is capable of carrying a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes, as well as cruise missiles with a range of 930 miles. This means the Israeli subs can hit anywhere in Iran should the need arise, including with nuclear warheads.

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Dolphin class submarines are nuclear armed, offering Israel a sea based second strike capability, in case its own territory had been struck by nuclear weapons and its land bases had been destroyed. It could still wipe out Iran, for instance.

Most of Israel’s Dolphins are normally based in the Mediterranean, but at least one was sent through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea for exercises in June 2009, and docked in the naval base in Eilat, probably as a warning to Iran. According to Haaretz, the Eilat naval base is strategically unsuited for Dolphin class boats, and getting them out of the Red Sea at a time of war would necessarily involve the consent of Egypt and Saudi Arabia who both control the Straits of Tiran.

According to The London Sunday Times, the Israeli Navy keeps at least one submarine equipped with nuclear missiles permanently of the Lebanese and Syrian coast.

David Israel

Saudi Arabia Pledges in Writing to Honor Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty on Islands

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Saudi Arabia has sent a letter to Jerusalem pledging in writing to honor the terms of Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel as part of its agreement to control two islands in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced Tuesday that he also has approved the signing of the transfer of control of the islands to the Saudis from Egypt.

Israel also had agreed to the arrangement between the two Arab nations, in which Egypt agreed to transfer control of the two islands, Sanafir and Tiran, to Saudi Arabia. Tiran historically was an island belonging to Saudi Arabia that was “leased” to Egypt in 1950.

The deal places both islands officially in the Straits of Tiran, which is in Saudi territory.

As for the Saudis, “The commitments that Egypt approved [in the peace treaty] we are also committed to, including the stationing of an international force on the islands. We looked into the matter and we know our legal position. We are committed to what Egypt committed to before the international community,” Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview.

The two islands are located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba as it opens to the Red Sea, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Eilat.

Israel’s Eilat seaport is located at the top of the Gulf and operates as the sole point of entry for goods from the Red Sea to the country.

Because the two islands are mentioned in the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Cairo is required to update Jerusalem on the matter.

The agreement effectively redraws the maritime boundaries of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, thereby creating new conditions for the relations of both countries with Israel.

In this case, Saudi Arabia has pledged – in writing – to honor the terms of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, albeit while stressing Riyadh will have no direct contact with Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia is still formally at war with Israel but as with numerous other Arab nations in the region, there are formalities and then there are practicalities. And there is Iran, an overwhelming threat to everyone in the neighborhood.

Egypt and Israel have reportedly been in contact over the plan to redraw the maritime boundaries of the two countries, according to a Hebrew-language Ynet report Monday that quoted the Egyptian daily Al Ahram.

The plan also calls construction of a bridge over the Red Sea between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Saudis signed a string of agreements in Cairo over the weekend that will result in some $16 billion in cash flowing into the battered Egyptian economy. The Egyptian parliament must still vote on the agreement, however, and some in the country are accusing President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of “selling” the islands to the Saudis.

From the Israeli legal standpoint, since the Saudis are also committed to the terms of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israeli sources noted there may be no need to change the text, which would require a Knesset vote, Ynet reported.

Hana Levi Julian

Analysis: ISIS Will Go Down to Defeat in Egypt

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

 

The Islamic State (ISIS) finally is going to be brought its knees in its attempt to take use the Sinai as a step to expand its terrorist empire to include Gaza, Egypt and even Israel.

The war in the Sinai is not over, but the ISIS attacks on Egyptian army checkpoints and police stations Wednesday were met with a fierce response that eventually will show the world that the Islamic State cannot succeed where a country is unified. ISIS, like Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks, survive on anarchy.

Wherever there is a power vacuum, the terrorists can step in, bankroll schools and welfare program, and take over the area business infrastructure to control the economy and government.

That is what Hezbollah did in southern Lebanon and Hamas did in Gaza.

ISIS also is succeeding in Libya, a semi-anarchic state since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi.

It has frightened the world by beheading men, women and children, and it has recruited butcher knife-wielding agents in Western countries

But beheading victim does not mean it can take over a country unless it totally demoralizes its citizens into surrender.

The ISIS is not invincible, and its incursion into Egypt will prove it.

Egypt, unlike Iraq and Syria, is bordered by open waters on two sides, the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the east. The Sinai Peninsula’s tiny land border to the northeast is with Israel, where Cairo has no fear of ISIS terrorists infiltrating the country

That leaves only Libya to the east and Sudan to the south, and both of them indeed are dangerous sources of jihadists and weapons.

But Egypt has one other factor running in its favor, and that is a fierce nationalism that worship and despite its dictators but always survives them by finding another.

ISIS was able to exploit a civil war in Syria and a total breakdown of sanity in Iraq to gain power.

Egypt is a different story. The country was divided between secularist and Islamists after the fall of Mubarak, but with only two sides fighting each other, the victor took the spoils. The Muslim Brotherhood swept into power, and then fell a year later, succeeded by a military regime until an election placed General Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in power last year.

The Sinai Peninsula is prime territory for ISIS. It is steeped in anarchy, neglected by Cairo for years, and its Bedouin tribes have carved out their own little fiefdoms.

Hamas and other terrorist organizations have exploited the vacuum of power over the past several years to carry out attacks in the Red Sea resort area and more recently on the army, but they always have been hit-and-run operations.

Geography and demography in the Sinai make it a wrong choice for ISIS. The Sinai is a desert. There are no major cities except for the Red Sea resort of El-Arish. The Egyptian air force Wednesday had no trouble in carrying out massive bombing raids on jihadist positions.

There was no worry of killing hundreds or even dozens of civilians, if there is such a creation in the criminal and terror-infested Sinai.

ISIS organized in the Sinai with the help of foreign intelligence, according to Egyptian military officials. It had no trouble smuggling weapons by sea from Sudan or from Gaza, but it would take a massive undercover infiltration outside of the Sinai and closer to Cairo for ISIS to be able to undermine the Egyptian regime.

Al-Sisi Wednesday night pre-empted a subversive Muslim Brotherhood-ISIS underground by approving drastic measures to expedite judicial proceedings against jihadists and their fund-raisers, with the death penalty hanging over their heads.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Earthquake in Sinai Lightly Shakes Israel

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

An earthquake that measured 5.5 on the Richter scale according to the Israel Geological Survey (other sources say 5.1 or 5.2), with its epicenter in the northern Sinai, 90 kilometers south of Eilat, sent slight tremors through Israel on Saturday around 6:34 PM.

No damage was reported. The quake occurred on the East African rift.

Ben-Gurion airport shut down for the duration of the tremors.

Residents in Ashkelon said their furniture shook. Yediot Acharonot reported that cows in the Arava, north of Eilat, apparently sensed the earthquake was on its way and started mooing several minutes before the tremors were felt.

In Egypt, the earthquake shook buildings in Cairo, more than 200 miles away from the epicenter in the Sinai.

Tremors caused dust storms nears the Red Sea, and strong winds whipped sand through the air in Cairo, forcing people to remain indoors.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Jordan, Israel Sign Historic Red Sea-Dead Sea Rescue Deal

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Jordanian and Israeli officials signed a multi-million dollar deal on Thursday to rescue the Dead Sea from oblivion. The ceremony took place on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, with Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom signing on behalf of the Jewish State. His Jordanian counterpart, Water and Irrigation Minister Hazim el-Naser, signed on behalf of the Hashemite Kingdom.

The historic project began with a memorandum of understanding signed in Washington by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian Authority leaders on Dec. 9, 2013.

The $800 million agreement authorizes the construction of a 65 to 80 million cubic meter capacity desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan. The plant is to produce potable water that will benefit both nations.

In return for its purchase of some 45 m.cu.m. of potable water annually from Jordan, Israel will add 50 m.cu.m. To its current annual sale of water to Jordan from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) in the north.

A 200-kilometer pipeline will supply Red Sea saltwater to replenish the shrinking waters of the Dead Sea, also benefiting both Israel and Jordan, whose borders share the shorelines of the lake on each side.

The memorandum of understanding worked out in 2013 also called for Israel to faciliate the direct sale of an additional 20 m.cu.m. of water from the Mekorot national water company to the Palestinian Authority.

Since the PA violated the terms of the Oslo Accords and unilaterally applied to the United Nations for membership as an independent Arab country – albeit within the current borders of Israel – many things have changed. The move circumvented any need to negotiate the issues of boundaries, security and economic or infrastructure issues with Israel and resulted in the two sides generally putting aside any further talk of joint projects.

“We are going to provide water from the Israeli system to the Palestinians at points where they need water, and we are going to start discussing with them as soon as possible,” Maya Eldar, an adviser to Minister Shalom told The Jerusalem Post.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli March Protests Railway Route to Eilat

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

A small group of activists are protesting government plans to build a railway line to Eilat.

A group of nearly two dozen youth and young adults marched from Dimona to the Red Sea resort city at the tip of the Negev this weekend to protest the plans.

The protesters and other naturalists are fighting the plan because they fear the railway will destroy the delicate ecosystem that exists in the area. Current plans call for the route to pass through 37 kilometers of nature reserves.

Critics also say that construction on the line may endanger coral reefs in the Red Sea off the southern coast in the Gulf of Aqaba near Eilat.

The plan, approved about nine months ago, is intended to creating a “land bridge” between Europe and Asia. It is aimed at bypassing the Suez Canal in order to ensure that Israeli and international shippers will have an alternative shipping route should the Egyptians ever again decide to close that artery.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-march-protests-railway-route-to-eilat/2014/03/30/

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