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July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sinai Peninsula’

Egyptian Culture Rife in Israel ‘For Years’ After Exodus

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Israeli archaeologists proved Wednesday there was a good reason for God sending the Jews on that 40-year stroll around the desert after all.

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Amir Ganor told journalists at a briefing in Jerusalem Wednesday, “The Israelites left Egypt; however, it seems that even years after their return, Egypt did not leave the Israelites and their descendants.”

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture which were discovered in the southern Israel excavation.

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture which were discovered in the southern Israel excavation.

The briefing was held just two days before the start of the week-long holiday of Passover that commemorates the Exodus. Ganor used the opportunity to reveal unique archaeological finds attesting to the existence of an Egyptian administrative center in the region 3,400 years ago.

The archaeologist has spent the past year directing an excavation in a cave near Kibbutz Lahav in southern Israel, in the Tel Halif region.

While in the area, the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery identified an underground cave in which there were signs of plundering. Inspectors discovered that antiquities thieves had broken into the cave and stolen 3,000-year-old pottery vessels, disturbing ancient archaeological strata in the process.

The IAA officials thwarted further damage to the cave and carried out a salvage operation to save the remaining artifacts and other extremely valuable archaeological information.

The excavation revealed evidence dating back to the late Bronze Age (1500 BCE) and the Iron Age (1000 BCE), including more than 300 pottery vessels of different types – some of which were still intact.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave.

Also found were dozens of pieces of jewelry made of bronze, shells and faience, unique vessels fashioned from yellowish alabaster, seals, seal impressions and cosmetic vessels – all of which had been placed in the cave and accumulated there for decades.

A ring that was discovered in the excavation which is inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian warrior holding a shield and sword.

A ring that was discovered in the excavation which is inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian
warrior holding a shield and sword.

“Among the many artifacts that were discovered, most of which are characteristic of the Judahite culture in the south of the country, we found dozens of stone seals, some of which are shaped in the form of a winged beetle (scarabs) and bear carved symbols and images typical of the Egyptian culture which prevailed in the country in the Late Bronze Age. Some of the seals were fashioned on semi-precious stones that come from Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula,” said Ganor, who heads the IAA’s unit for the prevention of antiquities robbery.

“It is true the Israelites left Egypt, but the evidence from the excavation in the cave shows the Egyptians did not leave the Israelites and their descendants. This has been attested to in archaeological excavations where we uncovered evidence from many years after the “Exodus” which reflects the influence of Egyptian culture on the Judahite residents of the country,” Ganor said.

Some of the objects were produced in Egypt itself, and were brought to Canaan by the Israelites or merchants. Others were made in the country using methods imitating Egyptian production techniques and copying Egyptian cultural motifs, while using indigenous raw materials, according to the IAA.

Cheat Sheet on Who’s Doing What to Whom in the Middle East

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan (and a few quiet others) have been urging U.S. President Barack Obama to climb down from his tree and listen to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. There’s a reason for that.

A new radical Islamic axis is forming, one that is cuddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood. The once-scattered Iranian-backed terror groups dedicated to annihilating the State of Israel are coalescing into a second axis while threatening to form an alliance with Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS, as well as Al Qaeda and other global jihad organizations.

Because part-time pundits don’t have time to study the fine details of where things are happening on the political chessboard of the Middle East, here’s a cheat sheet to help you keep score on the latest realities in the region.

For a lot of Western political analysts, the Arab Spring was confusing and a real pain in the neck — but that was a walk in the park compared to the nightmare now facing foreign affairs policy makers trying to stay abreast on current terrorist ties and the tangled web they are spinning in the ‘hood.

U.S. President Barack Obama is looking for a way to nurse his salty wounds over having to spend his final tenure swallowing bile while chatting civilly, if not with good manners, during phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

But here’s what’s happening right now — and what the leader of the greatest country on earth has to grapple with — while he continues to search for ways to pick a fight with Israel’s most popular leader since the Israel was founded by its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

In Africa:
Two terror organizations in Nigeria and Somalia, Boko Haram and Al Shaba’ab respectively, have both pledged allegiance to Daesh, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Both groups have slaughtered thousands and wounded more, committed numerous atrocities and are continuing to carry out murderous terror attacks to prove their mettle as “jihadists,” or holy warriors for Islam.

The moderate Arab nation of Tunisia suffered its first public terrorist attack by ISIS this weekend in a massacre that left 20 dead and dozens of others wounded in the iconic Bardo museum in Tunis, including many foreign tourists. At least 3,000 Tunisians have flown to Syria to join the ISIS terror organization; it’s no surprise those chickens are beginning to come home to roost in North Africa.

Tunisia is one of the few Arab nations left that can claim to be home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in Africa, and which has enjoyed a healthy international tourism trade. It now faces severe damage to its tourist industry, which was just beginning to recover from the ravages of the Arab Spring. Ominously, the threat level facing Tunisia’s Jewish community on the country’s island of Djerba is also not clear.

Libya, which borders Tunisia — and where an American Ambassador and three U.S. diplomats were murdered in an Al Qaeda attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 — has been entirely swallowed by Al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups. ISIS has also joined the party, spreading cells throughout the country as well. Earlier this month, ISIS made its “debut” appearance in the oil-rich nation with a public seaside beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers taken captive by the terror organization.

In the Middle East:
Egypt is facing one of the toughest fights of its life in the Sinai Peninsula as it battles a budding invasion by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iranian proxy groups. Homegrown terror cells and disgruntled Bedouin tribes are aiding and abetting this effort, having always looked for greener pastures and a better deal regardless of who’s in power in Cairo.

Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Iran‘s proxies who include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and in a consultant position, Hezbollah. All maintain contentious but cooperative relationships with the Salafi, global jihad Army of Islam terror group which is linked to Al Qaeda. ISIS is also now represented in the region as well.

Jordan is facing an existential threat on its borders with Iraq and Syria due to ISIS having captured border crossings on both, and the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards along the border with Syria. So far, its only remaining friendly borders are with Israel, and with Egypt. In addition, the Palestinian citizens within Jordan are not as friendly to the Hashemite regime as one might believe; moreover, they are wont to align with the Muslim Brotherhood which also operates within the kingdom and which can be seen as a fifth column.

Lebanon has been swallowed by ISIS, Palestinian Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to Fatah, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all of whom vie for power in the nation. Hezbollah holds the lion’s share of the political clout in the government since the terrorist group long ago expanded to include parliament members and actual ministers in the government cabinet as well.

Iraq was the first to fall to ISIS; its border crossings with Syria and Jordan were easy prey for the terror group. Iran easily persuaded the government that its was better off allowing its Islamic neighbor to “help” it fight off the Sunni threat than to place its trust in the American administration that had abandoned its ally when it was still to weak to fend off terrorist and tribal challenges to the power of the central government. So now Iran has now entered the picture there as well, to “assist” Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS, which Iran perceives as a threat to its own interests, for the time being at least.

It is likely that when the power struggle ends, one way or the other, Iran will be the force to divide the spoils and cut a deal with ISIS in order to ultimately divide up the region between the two emerging empires. However, Iran will ultimately be the one to rule because ISIS does not have the self-discipline, nor the structural underpinnings necessary to create and maintain an administration to rule an empire. This is quite separate and apart from Iran’s booming weapons production industry, not to mention its galloping race to develop nuclear arms.

Watch it happen – you read it here first on Jewish Press.com.

Syria was the little ticking time bomb that appeared to have set off this entire conflagration – but if one looks closely, it is clear that ISIS does not attack the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Nor does Assad bother much with the ISIS terrorists. Both have bigger fish to fry.

Assad is an Alawite — a sect that is linked to Shia, hence his close ties with Shiite Iran and that nation’s support of his struggle. Iran sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps units and Hezbollah guerrillas to fight alongside his troops. Russia also supplemented Assad for quite some time — right up to the point that Assad began to lose and Russian citizens were endangered. Then Russian “consultants” were evacuated, funding slowed down to a crawl but weapons shipments continued to arrive.

ISIS meanwhile wants to expand its reach throughout the entire Middle East — and that’s just for starters. Its ultimate stated goal is simply to establish a worldwide caliphate — an “Islamic State” — and nothing less. Think ‘Hitler’ with a 21st century media team and you’re headed in the right direction.

In any case, Syria is no longer really Syria; it is now divided up into cantons, each of which is governed separately by various emirs and such. Many report to ISIS already. Some report to Al Qaeda. Others still are loyal to the “moderate” Syrian National Council and its Free Syrian Army. A few are hanging on to Syria’s government, or what’s left of it – mostly around Damascus.

And now there’s Yemen, bits of it left currently on the chopping block and most already nearly to the mop-up stage by Al Qaeda, ISIS and their Houthi opponents, soon probably to be allies as well. Of course, Al Qaeda had laid the groundwork for the takeover of the country to a great extent, having infiltrated and permeated the territory over the past several years. Al Qaeda promotes the image of being at odds with ISIS, although the latter began as a freak offshoot of the terror mothership, but it is more likely all a bluff. We will yet see the day the two will re-unite as one, or return as allies.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is starting to move its military forces towards the border with Yemen. The last time Saudi Arabia did that was in March 2011, when it “helped” its neighbor Bahrain fend off a surreptitious move by Iran to foment unrest in the Sunni-ruled country (which has a Shia majority) under cover of the Arab Spring.  It took one day for 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 troops from United Arab Emirates to clear protesters from around the iconic Pearl Roundabout in Manama, and then to destroy the statue on what became known locally as “Bloody Thursday.”

The U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been closed due to the escalating attacks. Embassy staff and families of diplomats were evacuated from the country, just in time. The last group of 100 American special forces who were there to consult and help the Yemen military fight off the takeover in the first place were evacuated from the country last weekend due to the ‘rising danger.’

Houthi rebels seized the airport and control of the entire city of Taiz as well as the surrounding province over the weekend as well – about 240 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a — according to Taiz provincial government officials who spoke with international media.

As early as January, Yemen’s president and his cabinet resigned after the Houthis surrounded the presidential palace, and in fact the entire capital city of Sana’a was captured by the Houthi rebels. Last week ISIS suicide terrorists arrived in Sana’a and bombed two mosques, killing 137 Yemenis and wounding hundreds more, making it clear that supremacy over the city is still up for grabs.

The United Nations Security Council met Sunday (March 22, 2015) to discuss Yemen’s deteriorating situation, with its UN envoy to Yemen reporting the country is “at the edge of civil war.” Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains in exile in the southern port city of Aden, maintaining that he is still the nation’s leader. Last week, the Houthi war against Hadi pursued him all the way south to Aden, with an air strike aimed at the palace where he is housed. That day, Houthi rebels on the ground battled Hadi loyalists in Aden leaving 13 dead.

Finally, there is Turkey.

It’s odd how few actually discuss what’s happening in Turkey, a NATO member who has provided free passage to literally every single terrorist group that has requested safe passage through its country, even into Syria to reach the ISIS capital of Raqqa. If you travel through Istanbul airport on an average day, it becomes amazingly clear that whoever wishes to, can travel through Istanbul from Iran, Russia, or anywhere else.

Turkey is the ultimate Casablanca of today’s Middle East.

Muslim Brotherhood officials are warmly greeted by their supporters there. Hamas has a new international headquarters in the country, Fatah and other Palestinian officials are always welcome, and ISIS operatives move across the border to bring imports (brides and other ‘items’) to Raqqa with no trouble at all. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members – you name it, and you can make that meeting happen in Turkey, if you know the right buttons to push. Even United States officials are welcome.

Just be wary if you’re Jewish, or Israeli, of course.

Only a U.S. reject deported back home via Cairo to make a good showing to the Americans was turned back. Turkish authorities didn’t bother with that performance when it came to ignoring three young Muslim school girls from the UK whose frantic parents begged the Ankara government to block them from crossing the border into ISIS Land.

One wonders how Turkey is able to square its relationship with NATO with all that going on.

But managing delicate, intricate relationships are a peerless skill practiced by Turks since ancient times. There are few who can match a Turkish diplomat in anything, let alone the multi-lateral negotiations involving events so complex that one would need a nuclear microscope just to see past the surface, let alone begin to address it.

No wonder President Obama feels so disgruntled, so out of sorts, so … over his head.

This is not his neighborhood. He doesn’t know the language, diplomatically, behaviorally, gramatically or culturally. Nor has he yet learned the basic regional sport of bargaining in the souk. Worse, he probably would never enjoy it. You have to really love it to survive it.

But if you don’t live in the neighborhood, or you never come to visit, how on earth can you work out a two-state “solution” — let alone PEACE? More to the point, if you really dislike it so much why bother?

Mr. President, at least relax a little before you really hurt someone, and let those who actually like the region deal with it and with the Israelis too.

By the way – just as for your information — you may not realize it, but in Israel the appliance stores are still doing a really brisk business selling those terrific home appliances that are made in Turkey. Now, how do you suppose that could be, given all that hostile anti-Israel ranting from Ankara?

Obama Aides Lay Groundwork to Betray Israel at UN Security Council

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Aides to President Barack Obama told media Friday the U.S. will “reassess” its relationship with Israel in the wake of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s re-election to an historic fourth term.

A White House official couched the nasty reality in more diplomatic language, saying the president had told the prime minister “we will need to re-assess our options following the prime minister’s new positions and comments regarding the two-state solution.”

An official statement distributed following the call said the president had emphasized the U.S. “longstanding commitment to a two-state solution” during his conversation with Israel’s prime minister.

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Netanyahu clarified his position on the issue, explaining his reasons for a statement during the campaign in which he told supporters he would not back the establishment of a Palestinian state during his fourth term. In that clarification Netanyahu talked about the present realities in the Middle East with which Israel has to contend. He also noted that he supports the same conditions for negotiating a sustainable peace that he had set forth in his speech at Bar Ilan University in 2009: a demilitarized Palestinian state led by a government willing to recognize the Jewish State of Israel.

But he pointed to changes on the ground that cannot be denied – or ignored – and that present a real threat.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has united his government in Ramallah with that of Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, which is allied with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. All three are faithful proxies of Tehran. In addition, Gaza is now home to bases for a number of Salafi global jihad terrorist groups. Among them are the Army of Islam, Al Qaeda, and Daesh, also known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Iran and its proxies are also literally parked on Israel’s borders, in Lebanon, Syria, the Syrian side of the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. A new Palestinian state would be ripe for the picking as well, creating for Israel an existential threat that no leader could allow.

None of which has impressed Obama. At a briefing on Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters: “Now that our closest ally in the region – and one of the two parties who would be responsible for negotiating a two-state solution – has withdrawn from their commitments, to that ideal, it means that we need to rethink the kinds of policy decisions that we’re going to have to make going forward.”

Never mind the fact that the Palestinian Authority – the first of the two parties responsible for negotiating the two-state solution — withdrew from its commitments several years earlier.

Obama has entirely ignored the fact that the PA, via the PLO, unilaterally dropped out of the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords. He has also turned a blind eye as the PA abandoned its moral and legal obligations to negotiate a final status agreement with Israel, using the United Nations as an excuse to break that deal. The General Assembly of the United Nations participated, allowing itself to be so used by granting the entity non-member observer nation status, which opened the door for the PA to join hundreds of international treaties.

Some members of the American media are also using a double standard to judge Israel’s decisions on its national security and foreign policy.

CNN news anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewed Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz as part of Israel’s “Likud-led government” and baldly demanded to know: “Do you support what’s called a two-state solution, Israel living alongside, the new state of Palestine.”

Obama Let 40-Year-Old Oil Supply Guarantee to Israel Expire in November 2014

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Originally published at Liberty Unyielding

The Obama administration should give lessons in passive aggression.

Eying the impending Israeli election as a political influence operation wasn’t the only thing it was doing in November 2014. It was also letting a 40-year-old strategic guarantee to Israel expire.

The guarantee, which says the U.S. will ensure that Israel has access to oil in case of security emergencies, dates originally to September 1975, when Israel and Egypt were negotiating elements of an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai after the 1973 War. Throughout those negotiations, which culminated in the 1979 peace treaty, the status of the Sinai oil fields was a core issue. Israel had obtained oil from them since occupying the Sinai after the 1967 War, when an Arab coalition attacked, and Israel seized territory to maintain a defensive perimeter.

The U.S. oil guarantee was instrumental in giving the Israelis a secure basis for withdrawing from the Sinai. The use of the oil fields was one aspect of that dynamic; another was Egypt’s closure of the Suez Canal from 1967 to June 1975. The Canal closure affected trade of all kinds, and specifically had the potential to disrupt Israel’s energy supplies – as effectively, by driving prices up, as they would be disrupted by an actual cut-off.

Because of this dual vulnerability, the U.S. guarantee looks not only at whether Israel is able to obtain oil, but how much it costs her to. The guarantee can kick in for either reason. (It entails ensuring that Israel can buy oil; it’s not a guarantee that the U.S. will supply oil for free.)

A Congressional Research Service study done early in 2014, before the most recent agreement expired, can be found here. It outlines the history of the guarantee. The agreement was formalized in 1979, with an initial period of 15 years, ending on 25 November 1994. It was extended twice after that, each time for 10 years, and most recently expired – without renewal – on 25 November 2014.

Interestingly, Reuters cited an unnamed State Department official on that date claiming that State was “working on” renewing the agreement. It never happened, however, and on 12 March, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to John Kerry requesting that he attend to the matter immediately.

It’s not clear what “work” would have to be done to renew this agreement. It is clear, on the other hand, that it’s an agreement that was made for important reasons, and that those reasons are not only still valid: they are more of a concern today than they were 10 years ago. Since the last renewal in November 2004, Israel has pulled out of Gaza; the Arab Spring has thrown the region into tremendous turmoil; the threat of terrorism and guerrilla action in the Sinai has increased; and Iran’s navy has extended its operations dramatically, into the Red Sea and even the Eastern Mediterranean. The potential threats to Israeli trade, and specifically to Israel’s energy imports, have increased significantly since 10 years ago.

Israel has huge reserves of natural gas, but remains dependent on foreign sources for oil. The U.S. guarantee has never had to be invoked, but keeping it in place is far from an academic exercise. The Globes report quotes an Israeli source:

Israel has never invoked the agreement, but Israel sources say that its importance lies in its very existence. An Israeli source compared the oil supply agreement to the loan guarantee agreement between the two countries that enables Israel to obtain commercial loans at low rates of interest. “Israel used the loan guarantee agreement very sparingly, but it is important that the loan guarantees agreement should exist, and the same applies to the energy agreement that guaranteed a regular supply of oil,” the source said, “We never used it, but it’s important that it should lie signed in a drawer.”

Egypt Cites ‘Existential Threat’ from ISIS, ‘Terror Groups’

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffer warned in a speech Wednesday that his nation is facing an “existential war” in its battle against “terrorist groups.”

Speaking to a meeting of Arab interior ministers in Algeria, Ghaffar urged Arab nations to use all their resources to counter the imminent danger. The terrorist organizations, he said, “not only aim to come to power but also to divide Arabic countries and destroy their military and security capabilities…”

The danger posed by fighters from Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has escalated after local-area terror groups pledged allegiance to the organization, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and similar local groups in Libya are now linked to Daesh, with Ansar having since changed name to “Sinai Province.”

Egypt proposed creating a joint Arab force to preserve Arab national security. The proposal is to be presented again at the Arab Summit, slated to take place later this month.

IDF Preparing for Possible Jihadist Attacks along Egyptian Border

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Israeli military officers say it is only a “matter of time” before Islamic State-affiliated jihadist groups attack Israeli towns along the Egyptian border.

According to Lt. Col. Gilad Avralinzi, an engineering officer with the IDF’s 80th division, the IDF Engineering Corps has spent the past year preparing the Sinai Peninsula border fence in anticipation of hostile actions from jihadist groups in the region.

Avralinzi said the IDF will bolster the border fence during the next year with sophisticated electronics and surveillance equipment, including cameras, optics, and radars.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has waged a massive campaign to destroy Sinai-based terror groups such as the Islamic State-affiliated Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai), which was formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

Wilayat Sinai was behind a recent series of attacks that killed 30 Egyptian security personnel. This week, the group released a video showing the decapitation of 10 men whom it accused of spying for Israel and Egypt.

 

 

Egypt Security Forces Kill 2 Smugglers at Israel’s Southern Border

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Egyptian security forces opened fire Tuesday morning and killed two cross-border smugglers who apparently tried to bring “illegal goods” into Israel, security sources said.

According to Channel 10, which quoted an IDF source, bags of illegal drugs were found near the scene where smugglers crossing the border from Egypt were met by a second set of smugglers on the Israeli side.

It is not clear which smugglers were hit by the Egyptian gunfire, nor have the identities of any of the smugglers been made clear.

IDF soldiers reportedly fired warning shots after hearing the gunfire near the border town of Nitzana, and are investigating reports of smugglers being wounded in the shootout with Egyptian security personnel.

IDF soldiers have also recovered the bodies of the two dead smugglers. An investigation into the incident is underway.

Despite numerous efforts to plug the holes in the Israel’s long Sinai border with Egypt, incidents like this are not uncommon.

Of more concern to the security establishments in both nations are the efforts of regional terrorist proxies for Iran and now Daesh (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) to move weapons, ammunition, money and operatives themselves) across the border as well.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/egypt-security-forces-kill-2-smugglers-at-israels-southern-border/2015/02/10/

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