Amid rising tensions, IDF trains for ground operation in Gaza City 

Posted July 15, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Amid rising tensions, IDF trains for ground operation in Gaza City – Israel Hayom

For second time in 3 days, Israel intercepts drone approaching from Syria

Posted July 15, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: For second time in 3 days, Israel intercepts drone approaching from Syria – Israel Hayom

Germany warns Trump against ‘unilateral deals’ with Russia ahead of talks with Putin

Posted July 15, 2018 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Published time: 15 Jul, 2018 10:58

Russian Matryoshka dolls depicting t Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are seen on sale at flea market in Moscow / AFP

The German foreign minister has joined a number of anxious Western politicians in offering advice to Donald Trump ahead of the US president’s summit with Vladimir Putin, warning him against making “unilateral deals” with Russia.

“Unilateral deals at the expense of allies will harm the United States, too. The one who hits his partners risks losing eventually,” Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag in an interview released on Sunday.

However, the German foreign minister did acknowledge that the high-level talks between the US and Russia is a good sign, adding that the meeting can be “a step forward towards” nuclear disarmament.

Maas has recently accused the US leader of putting the entire architecture of European security at risk. On Saturday, he censured Trump, saying that the increased defense spending championed by the president during a recent NATO summit would not make the world any safer. Maas insisted that more weapons do not automatically mean more security, adding that Trump’s demands “have nothing to do with serious security policy.”  

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© Leonhard Foeger

All eyes now are on the much-anticipated summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, which is scheduled for Monday in Helsinki on the final leg of Trump’s European tour. A number of German politicians have long feared that the US president could take actions that are not in line with NATO.
The transatlantic coordinator for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, Peter Beyer, said “there are great concerns in the alliance about what agreements Trump and Putin could reach” during the summit.

Christian Lindner, the head of Germany’s Free Democrats, echoed Beyer’s concerns, saying that he did not trust Trump, and that his actions in the areas of trade and security were not in Washington’s long-term interest.

The UK establishment also fears that Trump will undermine NATO by striking a “peace deal” with Putin during the meeting. The politicians worry that the Russian president could persuade Trump to downgrade US military commitments in Europe, thus compromising NATO countries’ defense against so-called “Russian aggression.”  

READ MORE: US needs nothing from Russia, says McFaul. But who else will be your boogeyman?

In the meantime, Alexander Bartosh, a former Russian diplomat and military expert, told RT that the meeting between the two leaders will merely include trying to find a “unifying agenda for the US and Russia because the relations of the two countries affect not only their own wellbeing, but international security as a whole.” “None of the sides will be aiming to undermine the integrity of NATO,” he added.

Trump has repeatedly called his Russian counterpart a “competitor,” suggesting that Putin may become a friend over time. The US president insists that he doesn’t believe his counterpart’s policies are a threat to the US or Europe.

Moscow has noted that the goal of the meeting is to finally start changing the negative situation in relations between the US and Russia for the better. When asked what the Kremlin thinks about Donald Trump calling Vladimir Putin a ‘competitor,’ Yury Ushakov, the Russian president’s adviser, said that Moscow considers the US president to be a ‘partner.’

Ismail Haniyah: More escalation unless siege on Gaza is lifted

Posted July 15, 2018 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Hours after a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was announced, the leader of Hamas spoke at the funeral of two Palestinians killed in an IDF strike and vowed to continue the ‘resistance’ until the siege on Gaza is lifted; ‘We will not give up on returning to all the land of Palestine’; Meanwhile, IAF aircraft attacks an incendiary balloons unit in the strip.

Yoav Zitun, Elior Levy, Matan Tzuri|Published:  07.15.18 , 13:42

Ismail Haniyah (Photo: AFP)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah spoke on Sunday at the funeral of the two teenagers killed in yesterday’s IDF airstrike in Gaza and warned Israel of further escalation unless the siege on the strip is lifted.

“We are on the road to victory, the issue of Palestine, Jerusalem and Gaza is still on the top of our agenda. The solution to the situation in Gaza is to lift the siege. The Palestinian people do not believe in promises about projects. The people want to see real results that will bring an end to this siege.

“The weekly marches will continue until we’ve reached all of our goals, first and foremost: lifting the siege on Gaza. We’ll continue to march until the right of return is realized. We will not give up on returning to all the land of Palestine,” raged Haniyah.

Ismail Haniyah (Photo: AFP)

Ismail Haniyah (Photo: AFP)

Haniyah also said that the factions in the strip are those who had the last world when it came to ending the latest escalation.

“Our enemy, which aspires to impose equations of the rules of confrontation, has encountered resistance. We say to everyone that the marches that have put our issue on the map will only become more intense. The assassinations, carried out by your warplanes, will not happen again. These equations will not work again. Many elements were involved in mediating the ceasefire, but it was the word of the resistance that was the loudest,” he vented. Earlier in the day, several fires have broken out in the Gaza border region due to incendiary balloons being flown from the strip into Israel, only hours after a source told Ynet that the phenomenon of incendiary kites and balloons will stop gradually.

One of the fires ignited a hummus field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. The fires have been extinguished.

In response the IDF attacked three Hamas units in northern Gaza responsible for launching of the incendiary devices into the Israeli territory.

First published: 07.15.18, 13:42

German intel report: Iran seeks to shatter states’ stability with WMD

Posted July 15, 2018 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Iran and North Korea aim to circumvent embargoes

By Benjamin Weinthal
July 15, 2018 15:11
Missiles and a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran. (photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE YAZDI/ TIMA VIA REUTERS)

The German intelligence agency of the state of Hesse published a new document on countering the spread of weapons of mass destruction, singling out the Islamic Republic of Iran as one of two states seeking to obtain the ultimate form of powerful weapons.

The Jerusalem Post reviewed the late June document that states: “Weapons of mass destruction are a continued instrument of power politics that also, in regional and international crises situations, can shatter the entire stability of state structures. States like Iran and North Korea attempt, in the context of proliferation, to acquire and spread such weapons by, for example, disguising the transportation ways through third countries.”

The report said that the goal of the intelligence agencies of Iran and North Korea is “to circumvent control mechanisms in countries that are not especially subject to embargo restrictions.”

According to the Hesse report, proliferation is defined as “the production and spreading of weapons of mass destruction” and “the acquisition of compatible missile carrying systems and technology by states for which these weapons were not previously available.”

The intelligence agency explained that the “goal of counter-intelligence is to prevent” countries like Iran and North Korea, who seek weapons of mass destruction.

The report listed some types of illegal proliferation technology that countries want for the production of weapons of mass destruction. The examples include “equipment for the enrichment of uranium, nuclear reactors in connection with reprocessing plants, bioreactors, drying installation facilities, and the production process for precursor chemical  products.”

As a general rule, the intelligence agency noted, countries do not obtain completed weapons of mass destruction, rather secure “individual components, equipment, technologies and their products.”

German regional domestic intelligence agencies like the Hesse organization are the rough equivalent of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

The state of Hesse has not yet published its intelligence report covering the year of 2017. Germany’s 16 states each publish intelligence reports covering threats to the constitutional, democratic system. The federal government publishes a nation-wide report that covers more broad terms, such as threats like radical Islam, weapons proliferation and right-wing and left-wing extremism.

The 2017 national report ignored the North Rhine-Westphalia intelligence report that said Iran sought to obtain illicit technology that could be used for military nuclear and ballistic missile programs. In North Rhine-Westphalia, Iran’s regime made “32 procurement attempts… that definitely or with high likelihood were undertaken for the benefit of proliferation programs,” the state’s intelligence agency wrote last year.

German state reports frequently list more concrete data on Iran’s illicit nuclear, missile and espionage activities in the federal republic than the national intelligence report.

Take the examples of the southern German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria:  The Post reported in early June that the intelligence agency of Baden-Württemberg wrote in its report: “Iran continued to undertake, as did Pakistan and Syria, efforts to obtain goods and know-how to be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction and to optimize corresponding missile-delivery systems.”

Bavaria’s intelligence agency noted in its April report: “Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan are making efforts to expand their conventional weapons arsenal through the production of weapons of mass destruction.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas are both energetic supporters of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that aims to curb Tehran’s drive to become an atomic weapons power.

Neither Merkel nor Maas has commented on the state intelligence agency reports that documented Iran’s illegal proliferation activities in 2017 in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

Israel has Iran on the brain, and all the kites in Gaza won’t change that

Posted July 15, 2018 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Realpolitik dictates that threats from Syria trump Hamas, leaving Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the border little hope for change beyond the cycles of flareups

Today, 2:28 pm

A picture taken on July 14, 2018, shows a smoke plume rising following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

There’s a popular saying in Arabic that roughly translates to “I came the way I left.” In other words, there was a lot of fuss, but no progress has been made. It’s a sentiment familiar to anyone watching the Gaza border’s seemingly endless cycles of violence.

It is likely too early to summarize what happened in and around Gaza over the last 48 hours, but there is a feeling that the latest bout of violence — the most serious confrontation between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war — was unnecessary and unproductive, and left the situation in the Palestinian territory unchanged.

Early Sunday, several mortar shells were fired at Gaza-adjacent Israeli communities, apparently remnants of the violence a day earlier. Technically, this latest bout of violence, starting with Israeli airstrikes late Friday night, was a direct response to a violent riot along the Gaza border earlier in the day in which an IDF soldier was injured by a grenade thrown by a Palestinian.

But in practice, the IDF bombardment was an opportunity for Israel to destroy Hamas’s cross border tunnels it has long known about, and an effort to change the status quo with the Strip’s rulers regarding the increasing arson balloon and kite attacks.

There were those in Israel and in the IDF who believed that bombing empty Hamas facilities would cause the organization to panic and order its members to stop flying incendiary devices over the border that have burned thousands of acres of forests and agricultural fields in recent months. In addition, Israel hoped the strikes would appease residents of southern Israel and right-wing politicians who have been demanding a heavier response to the increasing arson attacks.

It’s doubtful the arson kite phenomenon will be stemmed, and thus the demands for action will only intensify.

Palestinian protesters fly a kite with a burning rag dangling from its tail to during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, April 20, 2018. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

Hamas was less than enthusiastic about the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal reached on Saturday. When it was informed the deal was going into effect, the terror group launched dozens of rockets at Israeli communities on the other side of the border to register its discontent without completely refusing to accept it.

And again, a few hours into the ceasefire, Hamas sources leaked that Egypt was pressuring the group to stop launching rockets and adhere to the ceasefire.

But it seems that both sides hoped that Egypt could successfully broker a truce to end the violence.

And everyone knows — Israel, Hamas and Egypt — that the next round of fighting is on the horizon, and that the reality in Gaza is unlikely to change significantly in the wake of the weekend violence.

The Israeli politicians who are quick to announce the government must not tolerate the ongoing “kite terrorism” are not telling the public the truth.

Firstly, the kites are not the most urgent security threat facing Israel but more like third or fourth down that list. Gaza has been downgraded, and is now regarded to be a less critical threat to Israel than the one posed by the Iranian military along the northern border in the sunset of the Syrian war.

Palestinian boys walk through the wreckage of a building that was damaged by Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on July 15, 2018. (AFP / MAHMUD HAMS)

Israel sees getting dragged into a complicated war in Gaza over incendiary kites as unnecessary for the IDF while a much more critical campaign is being waged in Syria over Iran.

So long as Iran is trying to entrench itself near the Golan border, its doubtful the reality for the Israeli residents living near the Gaza border — where kites are sparking multiple fires every day — will radically change in the near future.

Secondly, Israel — though politicians from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government generally refrain from saying this in public — wants to ensure the survival of Hamas in Gaza. Not out of affection for the organization, but because the alternatives to that terrorist group ruling the Strip is either complete chaos or Israel re-occupying Gaza and ruling over its 2 million residents.

This is the consideration behind Israel’s cautious policy regarding Gaza. A bout of violence, incendiary kites and demonstrations along the border is considered to be “tolerable” and does not warrant an all-out war that could force Israel to deal with far more difficult decisions than it is already facing.


Israel launches ‘its most painful strike’ on Hamas since 2014

Posted July 15, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Israel launches ‘its most painful strike’ on Hamas since 2014 | World news | The Guardian

Violence flares as Netanyahu warns ‘we will increase the strength of our attacks as much as necessary’

Smoke following Israeli strike on Gaza City
 Israel said it carried out its largest airstrike campaign in Gaza since 2014 after Hamas militants fired rockets into Israel. Photograph: Ahmed Zakot/Reuters

The Israeli military carried out its largest airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war on Saturday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel after weeks of growing tensions.

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an airstrike in Gaza City, while three Israelis were wounded from a rocket that landed on a residential home.

Israel said it was focused on hitting militant targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites. But even before the report of casualties the intense tit-for-tat air strikes and rocket barrages still marked a significant flare-up after a long period of a generally low-level, simmering conflict.

“The Israeli army delivered its most painful strike against Hamas since the 2014 war and we will increase the strength of our attacks as much as necessary,” Netanyahu said.

Late on Saturday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza announced that they had agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt, but sirens warning of incoming rockets still wailed in southern Israel early Sunday and it was unclear if the ceasefire was holding.

Palestinian with a slingshot
 A Palestinian with a slingshot in one of the near-weekly protests at the border. Photograph: APAImages/REX/Shutterstock

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said the latest Israeli sortie, the third of the day, struck some 40 Hamas targets including tunnels, logistical centres and a Hamas battalion headquarters. He said the escalation was the result of the sustained Hamas rocket attacks, its fomenting of violence along the border and its campaign of launching incendiary kites and balloons that have devastated Israeli farmlands and nature reserves.

“Our message to Hamas is that we can and will enhance the intensity of our effort if needed,” he said. “What Hamas is doing is pushing them ever closer to the edge of the abyss … Hamas will have to understand that there is a price to be paid.”

Later, witnesses reported that Israeli warplanes dropped four bombs on an unfinished building near a Hamas police and security compound in Gaza City, reducing the old structure to rubble. The four-story building is adjacent to a public park. Gaza’s Health ministry said two teenagers were killed in the strike and 10 others injured.

It marked the first casualties of the day. Striking in the heart of Gaza City is typically only seen during full-blown conflicts like the 2014 war.

Israeli medical officials said three Israelis were wounded from a rocket that landed on a house in southern Israel. It said paramedics in the southern city of Sderot were treating a 52-year-old man with a chest wound, a 17-year-old girl with a face wound and a 20-year-old woman with injuries to her limbs.

While Israel has been focused on rising tension along its northern border in its efforts to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military foothold in post-civil war Syria, it has been wary of escalating hostilities in Gaza. But Netanyahu has also come under pressure to act from southern Israeli communities, who have once again found themselves under rocket fire from Gaza in addition to contending with the daily field fires.

Balloons with incendiaries
 Balloons loaded with incendiaries fly towards Israel during a confrontation between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli troops. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered near the Gaza border for their near-weekly protest. A 15-year-old Palestinian who tried to climb over the fence into Israel was shot dead. Later the military said an Israeli officer was moderately wounded by a grenade thrown at him.

The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza has led border protests aimed in part at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, which has caused widespread economic hardship.

Over 130, mostly unarmed, Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests began on March 30.

Israel says it is defending its sovereign border and accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover for attempts to breach the border fence and attack civilians and soldiers. Most recently, it has been struggling to cope with the widespread fires caused by the incendiary kites and balloons floating over the border.

In a statement, the military said Hamas’ activities “violate Israeli sovereignty, endanger Israeli civilians and sabotage Israel’s humanitarian efforts that aim to help Gazan civilians”.

In a relatively rare admission, Hamas said it fired the rockets to deter Israel from further action. Most of the recent rockets from Gaza have been fired by smaller factions but Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it was an “immediate response” that was meant to “deliver the message”.