Archive for September 12, 2019

NETANYAHU: WE WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT START MILITARY CAMPAIGN IN GAZA

September 12, 2019

On tarmac before heading to Russia PM said the goal of trip is to maintain Israeli freedom of action in Syria

BY ROSSELLA TERCATIN, ANNA AHRONHEIM  SEPTEMBER 12, 2019 14:17 3 minute read.  

Netanyahu: We will have no choice but start military campaign in Gaza

IDF tanks gather near the Gaza border. (photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Thursday that Israel may have no choice but to embark on a military operation in Gaza to overthrow Hamas.

“It looks like there will be no other choice but to embark on a wide scale campaign in Gaza,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Kan Reshet Bet Radio shortly before he boarded a flight to Moscow where he is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.“There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime. Hamas doesn’t exert its sovereignty in the Strip and doesn’t prevent attacks,” he said. “We have a situation in which a terror group that launches rockets has taken over, and doesn’t rein in rogue factions even when it wants to.”

Netanyahu’s comments also came two days after a campaign rally in the southern city of Ashdod was interrupted by incoming rocket sirens after rockets were fired from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The prime minister said he wasn’t fazed by the rocket alert sirens when he was taken to safety by his security guards and that it was “absurd” if he remained on stage.

“I was calm and collected, I spoke quietly to the people in the audience and told them to evacuate,” Netanyahu said. “I wouldn’t stand there like some kind of macho, telling everyone to stand still with me so we can all get hit by a missile. I acted in accordance with the Shin Bet protocol, that’s what you should do in these situations … anyone who tells you otherwise is being irresponsible,”

In the interview, Netanyahu criticized his own ministers who have been calling for the IDF to attack Hamas.

“Stop agitating for an operation in Gaza,” Netanyahu said. “There will be an operation but I will not embark on it a moment before we are ready. I don’t base my policy on tweets.”

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigor Liberman tweeted in response to Netanyahu’s comments, saying that  “Bibi will go to an operation in Gaza after he annexes the Jordan Valley and Elkana, and he will do all of this only after his next meeting with Boris Yeltsin, of blessed memory.”

Liberman’s tweet referred to Netanyahu calling Britain’s prime minister Boris Yeltsin in Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

On the tarmac before boarding the plane to Moscow Netanyahu said that the goal of his trip to Russia is to maintain Israel freedom of action in Syria.

“This is a very important trip. We are currently operating in several arenas, at 360 degrees, to ensure Israel’s security, in the face of attempts by Iran and its proxies to attack us,” he said.

“This trip aims to continue this important coordination that prevents our collision with the Russian forces,” Netanyahu said, adding that the ultimate goal in Syria is to force Iran out of Syria, a goal that “is far from being achieved.”

Emphasizing the importance of the operations in Syria and highlighting how crucial the coordination with Russia is in this perspective, the prime minister said it “is important for us to continue to maintain the IDF and IAF’s freedom of action against Iranian, Hezbollah and other terrorist targets.”

Speaking to Russian media ahead of his visit, Netanyahu said that through talks between him and Putin “we were able to avert a near-unavoidable crash between the Russian Air Force and our own forces during an operation in Syria.”

When asked about the relationship between Tehran and Moscow, he claimed “I don’t think Russia and Iran are getting closer, quite the opposite in fact, I see many situations in which [Russians] and Iranians have different interests.”

On Wednesday, Moscow condemned Netanyahu’s intention to annex the Jordan Valley if he wins next week’s election, warning that this could lead to an “escalation” in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Moscow believes implementation of the plan “could lead to a sharp escalation of tension in the region and undermine hopes for the establishment of a long-awaited peace between Israel and the Arab neighbors.”

Trump mulls $15b bailout plan for Iran if complies with nuclear deal – report

September 12, 2019

Source: Trump mulls $15b bailout plan for Iran if complies with nuclear deal – report | The Times of Israel

US president said to be considering French proposal for line of credit guaranteed by future oil sales

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, on September 11, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, on September 11, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

US President Donald Trump is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion line of credit to Iran in return for the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

Four sources with knowledge of the US president’s conversations with French President Emmanuel Macron told the news outlet that Trump “has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining” the proposal.

According to a New York Times report earlier this month, which cited a US official and Iranian reports, the proposed sum is aimed at salvaging the accord after Trump withdrew from the pact last year and reimposed biting sanctions on Iran, including on its oil sector.

The $15 billion package would make up for about half of Iran’s annual oil sales, the report said, and ease some of the economic pressure on it.

The credit line would be guaranteed by future crude sales and the Trump administration would issue waivers on sanctions, the Daily Beast reported. Spokespeople for the State Department, White House, and Treasury did not comment on the story.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, left, meets his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in New York, September 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/ Ludovic Marin)

Such a step would likely be vociferously opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lobbied against the Iran deal and pushed for punishing sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has had a series of phone calls with Macron in recent weeks aimed at retaining the nuclear deal. The French leader has been trying to convince the United States to offer Iran some sort of relief from sanctions.

Trump on Wednesday warned Iran against further uranium enrichment but left open the possibility the US could lift sanctions to pave the way to a meeting with Rouhani.

Asked if he would ease crippling sanctions to help bring about a meeting with the Iranian leader, Trump replied “we will see what happens,” while warning it would be “very, very dangerous” for Iran to boost its enriched uranium stockpiles.

Trump said he believes Iran would like to make a deal because “they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.”

“We cannot let Iran have a nuclear weapon, and they never will have a nuclear weapon,” he said. “If they are thinking about enrichment, they can forget about it. Because it’s going to be very dangerous for them to enrich. Very, very dangerous, okay?”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks at parliament in the capital Tehran on September 3, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Rouhani has dismissed meeting with Trump, insisting that Washington must lift the sanctions it has imposed on Iran.

“The Americans must understand that bellicosity and warmongering don’t work in their favor. Both… must be abandoned,” Rouhani told his cabinet earlier Wednesday.

“The enemy imposed ‘maximum pressure’ on us. Our response is to resist and confront this,” he said, referring to the US sanctions.

Trump has used sanctions to step up pressure on Tehran since he pulled the United States out of a 2015 deal under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for a lifting of sanctions.

But speaking the day after he fired John Bolton, an architect of the “maximum pressure” strategy, Trump said his administration was dealing with both Iran and North Korea “at a very high level.”

National security adviser John Bolton speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, November 27, 2018. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

“I think Iran has a tremendous potential. They are incredible people. We are not looking for regime change. We hope that we can make a deal. If we can’t make a deal, that’s fine, too.”

According to a Wednesday report in Bloomberg News, Trump on Monday discussed the possibility of easing sanctions to woo Rouhani toward a possible meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month.

Bolton’s firing came after he protested the idea, according to the report.

The White House on Tuesday said Trump was willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions while maintaining its campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran.

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands after their joint press conference at the G7 summit on August 26, 2019 in Biarritz, southwestern France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Rouhani has had a series of phone conversations in recent weeks with Macron.

The French leader has been spearheading European efforts to salvage the nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

The deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been at risk of falling apart since Trump unilaterally withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

“As Iran’s government, parliament and people see it, negotiating with the United States is meaningless as long as sanctions are in place,” Rouhani told Macron, according to the government’s website.

“If agreements with Europe are finalized, we’re ready to return to JCPOA commitments, and a meeting between Iran and the 5+1 is only possible when sanctions are lifted,” he added.

The nuclear deal was struck in 2015 between Iran and six major powers — the UN Security Council’s permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, plus Germany.

Twelve months on from the US pullout, Iran began taking steps back from the deal.

It has since increased its enriched uranium stockpile to beyond the deal’s 300-kilogram threshold and boosted its purity above the 3.67-percent limit as well as firing up advanced centrifuges.

Despite the rollback, Rouhani said last week that Tehran and the European powers had been getting closer to an agreement on a way to resolve key issues.

In this frame grab from Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, three versions of domestically built centrifuges are shown in a live TV program from Natanz, an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, in Iran, June 6, 2018. (IRIB via AP)

On Wednesday, he told Macron that the steps Iran has taken so far in reducing its commitments were reversible.

“Iran’s third step is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and also has the potential to be reversed,” he said.

 

Trump warns Iran on uranium enrichment, but open to lifting sanctions

September 12, 2019

Source: Trump warns Iran on uranium enrichment, but open to lifting sanctions | The Times of Israel

US president says he believes Tehran wants a new deal as economic pressure is ‘getting tougher and tougher’; Rouhani tells Macron talks ‘meaningless’ unless sanctions eased

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, on September 11, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, on September 11, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned Iran against further uranium enrichment but left open the possibility the US could lift sanctions to pave the way to a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani.

Asked if he would ease crippling sanctions to help bring about a meeting with the Iranian leader, Trump replied “we will see what happens,” while warning it would be “very, very dangerous” for Iran to boost its enriched uranium stockpiles.

Trump said he believes Iran would like to make a deal because “they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.”

“We cannot let Iran have a nuclear weapon, and they never will have a nuclear weapon,” he said.

“If they are thinking about enrichment, they can forget about it. Because it’s going to be very dangerous for them to enrich. Very, very dangerous, okay?”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks at parliament in the capital Tehran on September 3, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Rouhani has dismissed meeting with Trump, insisting that Washington must lift the sanctions it has imposed on Iran.

“The Americans must understand that bellicosity and warmongering don’t work in their favor. Both… must be abandoned,” Rouhani told his cabinet earlier Wednesday.

“The enemy imposed ‘maximum pressure’ on us. Our response is to resist and confront this,” he said, referring to the US sanctions.

Trump has used sanctions to step up pressure on Tehran since he pulled the United States out of a 2015 deal under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for a lifting of sanctions.

But speaking the day after he fired John Bolton, an architect of the “maximum pressure” strategy, Trump said his administration was dealing with both Iran and North Korea “at a very high level.”

“I think Iran has a tremendous potential. They are incredible people. We are not looking for regime change. We hope that we can make a deal. If we can’t make a deal, that’s fine, too.”

According to a Wednesday report in Bloomberg News, Trump on Monday discussed the possibility of easing sanctions to woo Rouhani toward a possible meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month. Bolton’s firing came after he protested the idea, according to the report.

Rouhani told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a phone call on Wednesday that talks with the United States would be “meaningless” unless it lifts sanctions.

The White House on Tuesday said Trump was willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions while maintaining its campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, left, meets his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in New York, September 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/ Ludovic Marin)

Rouhani has had a series of phone conversations in recent weeks with Macron.

The French leader has been spearheading European efforts to salvage the nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

The deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been at risk of falling apart since Trump unilaterally withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

“As Iran’s government, parliament and people see it, negotiating with the United States is meaningless as long as sanctions are in place,” Rouhani told Macron, according to the government’s website.

“If agreements with Europe are finalized, we’re ready to return to JCPOA commitments, and a meeting between Iran and the 5+1 is only possible when sanctions are lifted,” he added.

The nuclear deal was struck in 2015 between Iran and six major powers — the UN Security Council’s permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, plus Germany.

Twelve months on from the US pullout, Iran began taking steps back from the deal.

It has since increased its enriched uranium stockpile to beyond the deal’s 300-kilogram threshold and boosted its purity above the 3.67-percent limit as well as firing up advanced centrifuges.

Despite the rollback, Rouhani said last week that Tehran and the European powers had been getting closer to an agreement on a way to resolve key issues.

In this frame grab from Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, three versions of domestically built centrifuges are shown in a live TV program from Natanz, an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, in Iran, June 6, 2018. (IRIB via AP)

On Wednesday, he told Macron that the steps Iran has taken so far in reducing its commitments were reversible.

“Iran’s third step is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and also has the potential to be reversed,” he said.

 

False alarms triggered north of Gaza as IDF bombs Hamas sites in reprisal raids

September 12, 2019

Source: False alarms triggered north of Gaza as IDF bombs Hamas sites in reprisal raids | The Times of Israel

Israeli military strikes terror group’s positions in the Strip in response to rocket attack earlier in the day; anti-aircraft fire sets off sirens in southern Israel

A burst of light, apparently caused by an Iron Dome interceptor missile detonating itself, illuminates the night sky over the northern Gaza Strip on September 11, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

A burst of light, apparently caused by an Iron Dome interceptor missile detonating itself, illuminates the night sky over the northern Gaza Strip on September 11, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The Israeli military conducted retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Wednesday night, following a rocket barrage from the coastal enclave earlier in the day and rising tensions in recent weeks, the army said.

Anti-aircraft fire directed at the attacking Israeli aircraft set off incoming rocket sirens in the communities of Zikim and Mavki’im just north of the Gaza Strip, and triggered the Iron Dome missile defense system, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

A 76-year-old woman suffered light-to-moderate injuries to her head and upper body after she fell while running to a bomb shelter in the community of Zikim, medics said.

“IDF fighter jets and aircraft attacked a number of targets in a military compound belonging to the Hamas terror group in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack was in response to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory earlier in the day,” the military said in a statement.

“The IDF will continue to act against attempts to harm citizens of Israel and sees the Hamas terror group as responsible for what is done in the Gaza Strip,” the army said.

Earlier in the evening, another false alarm — apparently caused by intense machine gun fire — sent hundreds of Israelis scrambling to bomb shelters south of the city of Ashkelon.

Palestinian media reported that terrorists in the Strip had directed anti-aircraft fire at Israeli drones, which triggered the IDF’s sensitive air defense systems.

Footage of the anti-aircraft fire was shared on Palestinian social media, as was a video of the Iron Dome interceptor missiles detonating in mid-air. The interceptors are designed to self-destruct in cases of a false alarm, where there is no incoming rocket to shoot down.

Moments before the alarms, Palestinian media reported that the Israeli Air Force had begun bombing Hamas positions throughout the Gaza Strip.

Outlets in the Strip said Israeli aircraft targeted sites in both the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis and Hamas’s “Ashkelon position” — from which the terror group has fired on the Israeli city of the same name — in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza.

The Israeli military did not immediately confirm the locations of its airstrikes.

Earlier on Wednesday, three rockets were fired toward Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip, the IDF said, and on Tuesday, two rockets were fired at Ashdod and Ashkelon, both of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

In the Wednesday afternoon attack, one of the projectiles struck inside an Israeli community, causing light damage to a home. The other two landed in open fields, causing neither injury nor damage.

In response, the IDF targeted two Hamas observation posts in northern Gaza.

“An IDF tank attacked two military posts belonging to the Hamas terror group in the northern Gaza Strip. This attack was carried out in response to the rocket launches at Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement.

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry said there were no Palestinian casualties in the retaliatory strike.

In the predawn hours of Wednesday morning, Israeli jets launched air strikes on 15 targets belonging to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, in response to the rockets fired at Ashdod and Ashkelon, the IDF said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas on Saturday that Israel would respond forcefully to any attempt to harm its citizens and soldiers, following two days of violent incidents on and near the Gaza border.