Israel’s SkyShield defense technology for commercial aircraft released

SkyShield uses laser and thermal imaging to deflect incoming threats against commercial aircraft; after three years of development, SkyShield developed and announced to public

The SkyShield

The SkyShield

Elbert Systems and Israel’s Transportation Ministry have announced that they have cooperatively completed final testing of its new system to protect commercial aircraft from missile attacks.

The project, three years in making, is the “SkyShield”- a defense system with advanced laser technology and thermal imaging to deflect any incoming threats against commercial aircraft.

SkyShield was announced successful and certified for commercial use on Thursday, in what Brigadier General Eitan Eshel, Director of Israel’s Ministry of Defense stated was a long process due to “seven years or so to take a decision and another three years of actual development” adding that SkyShield is “validated under the most complex and sophisticated testing conditions ever conduction in Israel… and is ready to protect Israeli airlines.”

CEO of Elbit System, Butzi Machlis stated that SkyShiled stated “hundreds of engineers worked on this program to optimize technologies and ensure its adaptation to the civilian environment.”

The concept of SkyShield comes from the Mombasa attack in 2002 in Kenya when terrorists targeted an Israeli charter flight with SA-7 missiles. The attack was unsuccessful but gave awareness to Israel’s need to create defense techniques for commercial aircraft.

Mid-January, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled the “Iron Beam,” a defense system with a high-energy laser system created to down short-range rockets. Alongside the Iron Dome, Israel’s defense techniques are the most advanced worldwide and will contribute to Israel’s safety and security, as well as its economy.

Israeli official confirms IAF airstrike, four Hezbollah fighters killed

Time magazine claims Israeli senior official confirms airstrike on attempted missiles transfer from Syria to Hezbollah; 4 Hezbollah fighters reported dead from strike; Hezbollah claims airstrike did not occur

Location of Monday’s airstrike (GoogleMaps)

Location of Monday’s airstrike (GoogleMaps)

An Israeli official has confirmed the Israeli Air Force strike on an attempted convoy transport from Syria into Lebanon Monday night. The convoy was attempting to transport surface-to-surface missiles from Syria into Lebanon.

Lebanese reports claim that two attacks were carried out on two trucks, one carrying missiles and the second launchers. The report additionally states that four Hezbollah fighters were killed in the attack, however, Hezbollah has attempted to downplay that attack, claiming that no airstrike occurred, a spokesman stating that there was “no raid on Lebanese territory” adding that there is a “strong presence of enemy planes over the area north of Bekaa.”

A senior Israeli official reportedly told TIME on Tuesday that Israel was responsible for the airstrike, the IDF and IAF not confirming the strikes.

In a joint press conference on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked if Israel was responsible for the airstrike. The prime minister responded, ‘”Our policy is clear – we will not speak about reports of what we did or didn’t do – but we do all that is necessary in order to defend our citizens.”

 

Merkel in Israel: Iran general threat for Europe as well

Merkel meets with Netanyahu; addresses nuclear Iran, European nations attempts at Israel boycott, Israeli security and peace negotiations

Prime Minister Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday (Channel2)

Prime Minister Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday (Channel2)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel Monday, meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem Tuesday. The German leader spoke in a press conference on Tuesday following meetings with the prime minister and Israeli officials, voicing support for a two-state solution, Germany’s stance against European nations attempts to boycott Israeli products, as well as address Iran as an “international threat”.

On a two-state solution and peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Merkel stated that Germany “supports a two-state solution: a Palestinian state and a Jewish state of Israel” stating that that the Palestinian Authority must recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a permanent solution in negotiations.  She stated, “Once an agreement is reached, mutual recognition would have to take place.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has consistently refused and has stated continuously that the Palestinian Authority is not willing to accept Israel as a Jewish state.

Merkel voiced support for “Israel’s security requirements to be able to finally live in secure borders” recognizing and addressing “constant fear of terror attacks.” Latest reports from ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim that the Palestinian Authority will be willing to allow the IDF a five-year presence in the West Bank, following that time period an international force such as NATO to replace the IDF for security purposes for both Israel and the Palestinians.

On the issue of settlements, Merkel stated that “on this Israel agrees to disagree” adding that “territorial integrity is of the essence” and that “settlement issues fills us with concern.”

On European nations attempts to officially boycott Israeli products from the West Bank, the German Chancellor criticized those nations stating, “It’s hard not to notice that those who call for boycott of Israel do not call for boycott of any other state. A boycott on the Jewish people, and the country of the Jewish people?” Merkel stated that Germany does not support any boycott, but that Germany does have “certain rules of labeling and we have to adhere to those rules.”

Netanyahu stated that he hopes “others in Europe follow your lead in rejecting boycotts” supporting Merkel’s comments regarding European states considering and pressing for a boycott on Israel. The Prime Minister pointed out the irony of such actions, stating, “it’s hard not to notice the fact that those who call for boycott’s of Israel are not calling for the boycott of any other country.”

On the issue of Iran and its nuclear program, Merkel emphasized Iran as a “threat not just as a threat for the state of Israel but as a general threat for Europe as well.” Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the press conference on Iran’s continued “charm effect,” additionally addressing Middle Eastern leaders joint stance against uranium enrichment as part of Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu stated that, “if Iran wants just civilian nuclear energy, then they don’t need any enrichment. They don’t need centrifuges.”

 

Report: Israeli Air Force strikes two targets on Lebanese-Syrian border

Syrian and Lebanese news reports two airstrikes by IAF on border; Israel has not confirmed the report

Two airstrike on Syrian-Lebanese border

Two airstrike on Syrian-Lebanese border

Lebanese news agencies have reported that Israel carried out two airstrike on the Syrian-Lebanese border. A report from the Lebanese newspaper Al Arabiya reported that two Israeli warplanes struck Hezbollah targets in the towns of Janta and Yahfoufa near the border.

The Israeli Air Force has not confirmed the airstrike. On January 29 Lebanese and Syrian news agencies reported that Israel bombed a Syrian base in Latakia, a coastal town, the attack also not confirmed by Israel.

Location of the strikes (Google Maps)

Location of the strikes (Google Maps)

Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Israel will not allow weapons transfers to occur from Syria to Lebanon. Hezbollah, which holds over 100,000 rockets as well as satellite-guided projectiles, continuously threatens the Jewish state.

Netanyahu stated in September of 2013 that “The Israeli government is acting in a responsible, determined and level-headed manner in order to guarantee the safety of the citizens of Israel in accordance with the policy we have set of preventing as much as possible the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. We will continue to guarantee Israel’s security interests.”

Egypt interim government unexpectedly resigns

Egyptian PM announces resignation of interim government; Egyptian military chief Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expected to run for president; elections to be held mid-April

Egyptian Prime Minister Hazaem el-Beblawi (Reuters)

Egyptian Prime Minister Hazaem el-Beblawi (Reuters)

Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi announced the resignation of Egypt’s interim government Monday. In a televised statement, the prime minister stated that he would resign, the resignation unexpected. Beblawi served as prime minister since last July, following the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi.

His announcement comes after a reported 15 minutes meeting with his cabinet that was also attended by Defense Minister and Armed Forces Chief Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Beblawi did not give a reason for his resignation, stating that, “Today the cabinet took a decision to offer its resignation to the president of the republic…. The cabinet has over the past six or seven months shouldered a very difficult responsibility.” Beblawi stated that his efforts in government were to guide Egypt out of a “narrow tunnel” and stated that “no government could have fulfilled the demands of its people in such a short period of time.”

Egyptian news sources are reporting that Egyptian President Adly Mansour will accept the prime minister’s resignation and appoint Ibrahim Mahleb, Egypt’s Housing Minister in charge of forming a new government.

Reports are also pointing to Egypt’s military chief, Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to run for president. An Egyptian official was quoted telling Reuters that “This was done as a step that was needed ahead of Sisi’s announcement that he will run for president.” Sisi would have to step down from his position as defense minister and armed forces chief to run for president.

Egypt will hold elections mid-April according to its Constitution instituted in January.

Netanyahu: We need to dismantle Iran’s ability to manufacture & launch nuclear weapons

Netanyahu addresses nuclear Iran in cabinet meeting following negotiations with world powers last week; German Chancellor to arrive in Israel Monday

Netanyahu addresses his cabinet ahead of Merkel visit (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)

Netanyahu addresses his cabinet ahead of Merkel visit (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)

Speaking in his weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Iran and its nuclear program, specifically emphasizing the need for world powers to ensure Iran does not hold the capabilities to create nuclear weapons and long-range missile capability.

The prime minister’s cabinet address comes after last week’s nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, what EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton described as “good start to productive talks.” Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi confirmed the “framework” set for future talks, stating in a press conference that, “the issues on the agenda are enrichment (of uranium), the lifting of sanctions and international cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy.”

Talks are scheduled to resume March 17th. Technical talks will be held in Vienna next week, followed by political meetings in order to negotiate a “comprehensive nuclear deal”

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that to the cabinet that he is “greatly concerned that Iran believes that it can implement its plan to become a nation on the nuclear threshold… This combination of uranium enrichment and launch capabilities, means that Iran is getting everything and giving nothing… We need to dismantle Iran’s ability to manufacture and launch nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu pointed out the “charm effect” that Iran has been using in negotiations to lessen sanctions, which have been crippling the Islamic Republic. The prime minister and Israeli government have been outspoken on Iran’s attempts to use diplomatic relations to lessen sanctions, yet continue developing its nuclear program and military capabilities.

“This has yet to be achieved, and without the persistence of the world powers it will not be achieved… I hope that the powers will be firm in the demand to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-threshold country.”

Netanyahu called on European states, specifically Germany, to stand firm against a nuclear Iran. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday.

 

Iran and world powers to resume negotiations mid-March following “productive talks”

World powers and Iran adjourn three day talks on Iran’s nuclear program, report “productive talks” and “agenda and framework” set for resumed talks March 17th; EU Foreign Policy Chief to visit Tehran ahead of resumed talks

Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif address the press following 3 day talks in Vienna (AP)

Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif address the press following 3 day talks in Vienna (AP)

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers ended in Vienna in what European Union Foreign Policy Chief described as a “good start to productive talks”. The three-day talks ended with negotiations set to resume March 17th. The negotiation teams have agreed on an “agenda and a framework” for the future negotiations.

Ashton stated that the talks were “very productive days during which we identified all the issues we need to address to reach a final agreement.” She stated additionally “There is a lot to do. It won’t be easy, but we have made a good start.”

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi stated that “The involved parties have agreed on an agenda and a framework and the next round of talks will be in the second half of March in Vienna.”

A European diplomat stated that “The focus was on the parameters and the process of negotiations, the timetable of what is going to be a medium- to long-term process. We don’t expect instant results.”

Reports claim that Iran will be required to dismantle and store majority of its 20,000 centrifuges, used to enrich uranium. Additionally, world powers have required that  Iran’s current reactor construction be “converted from a heavy water set up to a light-water facility.”

Ashton will meet with the Iranian nuclear negotiation delegation in Tehran between March 9-10, ahead of resumed talks, as confirmed by a Western diplomat. Technical experts will meet in March before the political directors meeting set for March 17th.