IAF retaliates rocket attack from Gaza

Israeli Air Force responds to rocket fire into Israel from Gaza Friday; IDF confirms targets were hit; Ya’alon “We will not tolerate rocket fire on Israel.”

The Israeli Air Force retaliated rocket fire from Gaza into Israel Friday, reportedly targeting a weapons storage warehouse and rocket launch site. A rocket was fired into Israel Thursday landing in an open field in southern Israel. No injuries or damages were reported.

Reports from Gaza claim that four Palestinians were wounded in the airstrikes.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed the airstrike as successful and direct hits were confirmed. The Spokesperson Unit additionally confirmed that Hamas was responsible for the attacks, stating that the airstrike targeted “a terror activity site and a weapon manufacturing facility in the northern Gaza strip and a weapon storage facility.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated on the airstrike that, “We [Israel] will not tolerate rocket fire on Israel. The IDF and other security forces will continue to chase after those who shoot at Israel or try to execute terror attacks, and they will not hesitate to attack those attempting to do so.”

IDF Intelligence Chief: Israel entering “Era of Fire”

IDF Intelligence Chief addresses missile and rocket threats against Israel, cites over 170,000; shows intelligence reports of al-Qaeda presence entering Syria through Turkey

IDF Military Intelligence Chief and Director Major General Aviv Kochavi (Flash90)

IDF Military Intelligence Chief and Director Major General Aviv Kochavi (Flash90)

Israel’s IDF Intelligence Chief Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi addressed increased terror threats against Israel, specifically threats of missiles and rockets. Speaking at the INSS Conference Wednesday, Kochavi referred to Israel going through an “Era of Fire” additionally addressing Israel’s increased defense capabilities and growing issues regarding cyber threats.

Kochavi quoted over 170,000 rockets and missiles “that threaten Israel,” stating that, “The state of Israel is surrounded 360 degrees with active enemies. The conventional threats have not disappeared.” He additionally stated that for the first time, “the enemy has the ability to hit Israeli cities hard… They are much more precise and a lot more lethal” in reference to advanced missiles and rockets in Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

Kochavi reported intelligence on threats within the region, stating that neighboring countries have “little interest in war” with Israel, citing internal conflicts and lack of funds as the reason. “There is not question there is a decrease in such threats, but they have not given up.”

Kochavi addressed terror groups as “many” showing maps and statistics of growing terror groups within the Middle East. On Hamas and Hezbollah, Kochavi stated, “an organization [Hezbollah] that possesses more than a 100,000 rockets, including hundreds of different kinds of advanced antitank missiles, advanced mortar shells can no longer be a referred to as a terror group in the simple sense of the term…. The same goes for Hamas.

Kochavi gave a report on the affects of terror units through out the Middle East and their relevance as a threat to the State of Israel. Kochavi emphasized Syria as a “vacuum for the Islamic Jihad” showing maps and intelligence findings showing al-Qaida militants entering into Syria via Turkey.

Kochavi stated that “Syria is projecting its conflict to the whole region” adding that the locations on the map of al-Qaeda presence in Turkey as “no mistake by the graphic artist and it is a short way from there into Europe.” Kochavi refused to give specifics or numbers, but did show three al-Qaeda bases in Turkey.

Turkey has not responded to the report, but has continuously claimed to not support nor shelter Islamic extremists or al-Qaeda groups in connection to Syria.

On cyber threats, Kochavi stated that most attacks against Israel were stopped; however “the ability to carry out such attacks is almost unlimited.” The IDF designated a specific unit with trained intelligence soldiers to deal with constant cyber threats against Israel mid-2013. Additionally, Israel’s National Cyber Bureau has begun to establish response teams to deal with increased cyber threats against Israel.

 

Report: Israel strike on Syria’s Latakia

Reports from Syria and Lebanon claim Israeli strike on Latakia; Israel refuses to comment on report; Lebanon reports Israeli Air Force activity over Lebanese airspace

The location of the explosion Sunday, Latakia, Syria

The location of the explosion Sunday, Latakia, Syria

The Israeli Air Force has been reportedly bombed a Syrian base in Latakia Sunday. Several Lebanese sources began releasing reports that an explosion at the Latakia airport occurred on Sunday, reports released Monday claiming Israel responsible for an attack.

Neither the Israeli Air Force nor Israeli security officials commented on the reports.

Several reports of attacks on Latakia have surfaced in the past year. Last November, reports of an Israeli attack on an attempted weapons transfer to Hezbollah were confirmed by U.S. Intelligence sources through CNN. Israel reportedly prevented the transferal of Russian SA-8 surface-to-air missiles.

While Israel has committed to not interfering in Syria’s ongoing civil war under President Bashar Assad’s regime, Israeli officials have been very clear that Israel sees any weapons transfers to Hezbollah as a threat to the Jewish State.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar network additionally reported that Israeli Air Force aircrafts few over Lebanese airspace Sunday morning.  The Lebanese army released a statement that two Israeli warplanes flew over Lebanese territory for over an hour. Israel did not comment on the reports.

 

Israel’s Defense Minister addresses Iran and peace process with Palestinians

Ya’alon addresses Iran as “nurturing” terror in Middle East; Addresses peace process with Palestinians, denounces accusations of Israel as apartheid state

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni)

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon addressed terror in the Middle East, focusing on Iran as the major core and terror “nurturing” force in the region. Ya’alon spoke at an economics conference at the Institute for National Security Studies Tuesday addressing security in the Middle East, the peace process with the Palestinians, additionally denouncing accusations of Israel as an apartheid state.

Ya’alon spoke of Iran as “nurturing” terror in Syria, Iraq and Gaza.  He stated that Iran’s  “aim for the formation of a Shi’ite-Iranian caliphate has not changed” adding what both Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu described at the Davos World Economic Forum last week as Iran a threat not just to Israel, but a global threat. He stated that Iran is ”deceiving the international community. It is a messianic and apocalyptic regime that denies Israel’s existence and this is the number one threat to the world and the region.”

The Defense Minister addressed Iran’s intentions in the region as an “era of dictator’s reign is over” pointing out desire of Arab nation for “democracy and peace now” adding that Israel is “looking at the long term.”

Ya’alon’s comments come after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for improved diplomatic relations internationally, specifically within Europe and the United States, however intentionally refused to mention Israel or Saudi Arabia, stating, “we [Iran] wish for a better future and to have beneficial relations with all that we recognize.”  The Iranian President additionally stated that Iran’s nuclear program has not intent of creating nuclear weapons.

Shortly after his speech, both EU Policy Chief Caroline Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced resumed nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers to start in mid-February.

On accusations of Israel as an apartheid state, Ya’alon stated that a “delegitimization campaign whish is based on false Palestinian narrative” is responsible for false criticism and accusations of Israel as an apartheid state. Ya’alon spoke of the hypocrisy of such claims, addressing Israel’s acceptance of refugees from both Sudan and Eritrea in the past seven years, stating, “If this [Israel] is an apartheid, why are the Africans coming here?”

Israel has taken in over 55,000 asylum seekers since 2007- the only country to accept the refugees who travelled from southern Sudan and Eitrea. The refugees escaped genocide in their home countries and traveled to Israel seeking asylum.

Ya’alon called for the end of “lies” emphasizing Israel as having “no desire to control the Palestinians.” He referenced his military history in the West Bank in 1992-1993, stating, “I was the Judea and Samaria commander in 1993-1992 and I supported Oslo and until today I think human life is more valuable than land. But until we returned to Jenin (during a major 2003 IDF operation) all we got was terror attacks… it was unstable. Those who say ‘get out of there and will be peace,’ I can prove that they are mistaken.”

Ya’alon supported Netanyahu’s call for economic investment in Israel as a solution to many of the regions issues, specifically noting the need for economic development for the Palestinians as necessary for a Palestinian state. Ya’alon stated “deep focus on economic development is what will foster change.”

He cited major shifts and changes in the Middle East as a result of the region’s people and not governments, stating, “The people have become an important actor. There is the media and an influx of ideas that influence the people, and it has reached the street. The economy is a leading factor in pushing people onto the street.” He specifically referenced the affects of sanctions on Iran’s people as a factor in forcing Iran to cooperate and enter negotiations on its nuclear program stating,  “Iran is now talking with America, which what it calls the great Satan, only for economic reasons. This is key to understanding developments in the Middle East.”

Palestinian Authority President calls for peace with Israel

PA President calls for peace with Israel, need for two state solution; addresses issue of IDF presence in West Bank, Hamas and security, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees; Abbas states he is “willing to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called for peace with Israel, reported Sunday in an interview with Israel’s National Security Studies to air later this week. In the interview, Abbas addressed the issues of borders, security, Hamas, Palestinian refugees and a “thirty party” presence to replace the IDF in the West Bank.

Abbas stated “I’m telling the Israeli people that we’re neighbors, we’ve fought many wars,” adding that he prays “to God that the wars between us have stopped… From my perspective they’re a thing of the past, as is the use of force a thing of the past.”

The Palestinian Authority President addressed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, stating that the Palestinians “want peace with Israel. We want the people in Israel to live in security in its state and the Palestinian people will also live in its independent state.”

The president spoke in optimism on negotiations reportedly, however warning that “it may be possible that this opportunity for peace might not return.” Abbas went on to state that any agreement made would include “complete recognition with full diplomatic ties with the State of Israel,” however adding that the Palestinians “agree to a third-party presence that will replace Israel during or after the withdrawal in order to remove our fears and Israel’s fears.” Abbas suggest NATO as an “appropriate organization.”

Abbas emphasized the need for a two-state solution, stating “a vision of two states has to become reality, according to it the State of Israel will exist next to the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders,” adding that “the second most important clause is that East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state.”

On Jerusalem, Abbas stated that it would be “a city open to all religions and there will be arrangements made between the two sides.”

On the major issue of security, specifically Hamas, President Abbas stated that an agreement “in the name of the entire Palestinian nation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in the diaspora (referring to Palestinian refugees)” was to be made, adding that “Hamas is not a problem.. Leave that to us.”

Abbas reported that he was willing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling the reporter to “write this done… I’m not ruling out Netanyahu speaking at our [Palestinian Authority] parliament or speaking of from the Knesset.”

 

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers to resume next month

Iranian FM confirms resumed negotiations with world powers on its nuclear program; Peres awarded with WEF Bell; Netanyahu and Peres address nuclear Iran; Netanyahu states “the aim of a diplomatic process with Iran cannot succeed”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at WEF (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at WEF (AP)

Nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 are to resume in February according to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The resumed talks are expected to begin sometime after February 19th.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton confirmed the resumed talks to resume stating that “the first meeting of Iran and the P5+1 will resume at the end of the Iranian month of Bahman.”

The location of the talks has not been announced, previous negotiations held in Geneva. Additionally, reports claim that the decision to wait with negotiations was due to what Zariaf stated, as “our Chinese friends were not ready to holidays of their new year.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed pessimism to a diplomatic solution to nuclear Iran following Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech to the Davos World Economic Forum this week, additionally expressing doubt in Iran’s intentions to cooperate with demands in world power’s demands in its interim government aimed at creating permanent, successful diplomatic solutions to Iran’s nuclear program.

The Prime Minister, speaking in his weekly cabinet meeting stated, “Iran will not halt centrifuge enrichment,” adding that “the aim of a diplomatic process with Iran cannot succeed… We know the truth- there is a regime that under the guise of a charm offensive is attempting to arm itself nuclear weapons, to become a threshold state that can obtain nuclear weapons very quickly, and one that hasn’t changed a whit of its true ideology.”

Netanyahu has estimated Iran having spent at least $160 billion in advances in its nuclear program, reporting that world leaders agree with Israel’s assessment on Iran’s intention of creating a nuclear bomb.

Israeli President Shimon Peres suggested an international boycott of Iran as was done with South Africa. During his speech at the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the Israeli President spoke of international pressure and boycott against South Africa during its apartheid, suggesting that, “If Iran will continue to do what they are doing, then automatically, I believe, in addition to the sanctions, they will see that the world doesn’t like these sorts of bluffs, which are so dangerous.”

President Rouhani’s call improved diplomatic relations with Europe and the West as well as Middle eastern states in his speech at the World Economic Forum excluded Israel and Saudi Arabia. When asked in a Q&A session with the World Economic Founder Klaus Schwab on “Do you include all countries?” in reference to Rouhani’s call for “international diplomatic improvement with Iran” reports claim Rouhani laughed, stating, There are no exceptions; we wish for a better future and to have beneficial relations with all that we recognize.”

Iran’s has historically not recognized Israel as a state, constantly calling for its destruction. Peres, in response to Rouhani’s statements stated that, “The declaration was so promising and the omission was so obvious” adding, “You got a smile, it’s nice, but it’s not an answer. For the time being, it is a happy story… The part that you omit is more important than the part that you announce.”

Peres stated, “For us, Iran is not an enemy. We don’t want to fight. We are not historically hostile.”

Klaus Schwab presented Israeli President Shimon Peres with a bell in his long history of “tolling the bell of peace,” an award for his “long standing commitment to its mission.”

Netanyahu calls for investment in Israeli economy at World Economic Forum

PM calls for investment in “epicenter of world innovations”; addresses peace process with Palestinians, Iran as threat to region and “shift in favor” of Arab nations towards Israel

Netanyahu speaks at the Davos World Economic Forum Thursday (AFP)

Netanyahu speaks at the Davos World Economic Forum Thursday (AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on global investment in Israel’s economy. The Prime Minister spoke at the Davos World Economic Forum Thursday, addressing the benefits of investment in the “epicenter of world innovation” touching additionally on the issue of a two-state solution with the Palestinians and nuclear Iran.

Netanyahu focused his speech on Israel as “not what’s wrong in the Middle East” but “what’s right with the Middle East” emphasizing Israel as an innovative, democratic and progressive state.  Referring to Israel as “often called the ‘start-up nation’”, Netanyahu stated that Israel is an “innovation nation” adding that he intends to “speak with leading global companies in high-tech, in cyber and other areas to tell them to come to Israel and invest in Israel.”

Netanyahu stated that “This is an invitation to innovation nation, it’s open for business, it’s open for your business, please come join us.”

On peace with the Palestinians, the Prime Minister stated that as Israel’s leader, he is “ready for peace… ready for a real, secure, genuine peace” adding that he hopes Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas “is ready too.” He addressed the difficulty that lies ahead in the peace process with the Palestinians, stating “It will not be a perfect peace, but it is important for us, and I think it’s important for our Palestinian partners as well.”

The Prime Minister addressed the need for recognition of Israel as the Jewish state for legitimate peace with the Palestinians as well as “very specific security arrangements on the ground” in reference to security concerns in negotiations with the Palestinians. On economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu stated, “Investment in economic peace assists the development of political peace, especially with the Palestinians.”

Addressing Iran, Netanyahu stated that “half of Palestinian society is dominated by Iran’s proxy” referencing Iran- supported Hamas. Netanyahu cited “the removal” of Iran as a nuclear threat as “help in advancing peace” and stability in the region.

Israel’s Prime Minister addressed a “shift in favor” of Israel by Arab nations, stating, “Central Arab governments are preoccupied with the Iranian nuclear weapons and the Muslim brotherhood… The nations do not see Israel as an enemy but as a potential ally to combat these threats… They are not assured by the words spoken earlier by the president of Iran. They get it. We all wish there was a real change in Iran… Rouhani continues Iran’s deception show.”

Netanyahu was referring to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the Forum before his in which the president stated “the key for peace in the Middle East is economic growth” calling on cooperation within the region. The president excluded Israel and Saudi Arabia in his speech, additionally defending Iran’s nuclear program stating, “40 countries have nuclear technology and Iran will not be discriminated against.”

Iran’s economy has suffered greatly due to economic sanctions placed on the Islamic Republic by the West due to its nuclear program, which it insists is for peaceful means and advances in science only.

On nuclear Iran, Netanyahu stated “The goal of the Iranian Ayatollahs’ Regime, that hides behind Rouhani’s smile, is to ease sanctions without giving up their program to produce nuclear weapons.”