Massive gas field discovered off of Egyptian coast

Italian energy company announces discovery of “largest” gas field find in region; Israeli MK’s to press pressure on Knesset gas agreement


The Italian energy company Eni SpA announced the discovery of a massive gas field 190 kilometers off the coast of Egypt in the Shorouk Block.

The discovery, which is believed to be a gas field exceeding 100 square kilometers, is yet another natural energy boost to the region. It is believed to be the “largest-ever” discovered gas field in the Mediterranean. The gas field is being referred to as the “Zohr project”. There is a believed 30 trillion cubic feet of gas in Zohr.

A statement release by Eni SpA stated that, “Zohr is the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea and could become one of the world’s largest natural gas finds. The discovery, after its full development, will be able to ensure satisfying Egypt’s natural gas demand for decades. Eni will immediately appraise the field with the aim of accelerating a fast-track development of the discovery.”

Eni SpA CEO Claudio Descalzi stated on the discovery that “It is changing the game for Egypt…It is very important for Egypt, but also for the Mediterranean in terms of stability… It is close to the facilities so the time to market will be very good… that is part of our strategy to…continue to do our exploration in the mature area where we have a deep geographical knowledge and we can take advantage of our facilities and that will make the unit cost in terms of capital very positive.”

The discovery comes during negotiations in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) on Israel’s future natural energy development and export expectations to boost Israel’s economy, nan agreement to be made in the government in the coming weeks. Israel has two major gas fields, the Tamar and Leviathan.

In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz stated on the gas field discovery off Egypt’s shores that, “The discovery of the massive gas field in Egypt is a painful reminder that while Israel sleepwalks and dallies with the final approval for the gas road map, and delays further prospecting, the world is changing in front of us, including ramifications for Israeli export options. We must pass the gas road map and forward the Israeli gas industry.”

Israel’s Leviathan gas field contains 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, with a projected development end date by 2019.

Israel signed a $1.2 billion, 70-year deal in March with Egypt on investment in Israel’s Tamar gas field, with a reported deal of $5 billion cubic meters of gas for the Dolphinus Holdings Firm.

Iran confirms delivery of Russian S-300 missile system by “end of year”

Arms deal reportedly completed with second in talks according to Lebanese media; Netanyahu addresses nuclear Iran in Italy visit, warns of future of sanctions relief contribution to funding nuclear Iran

S-300 Missille System (Reuters)

S-300 Missille System (Reuters)

Iran’s Defense Minister Hussein Dhaghan confirmed on Sunday that Russia and Iran have completed the arms deal of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile system and that it will be delivered by the end of the year.

The confirmation comes after reports last week that Russia was demanding Iran end its previous lawsuit against Russia for not delivering the missile system. With the final nuclear deal just days away from likely passing in the United States Congress, Russia has already finalized its previous arms agreements with the Islamic Republic, having signed the arms deal and lifting its arms embargo in April.

The report was made by Lebanese media and additionally claims that Iran is in negotiations for yet another purchase for a reported 30 Russian-produced Sukhoi fighter jets.

Iran continues to swiftly develop and strengthen its military capabilities, while denying its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

During a visit to Italy, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to reports that Iran was only pursuing a “civilian nuclear program” stating to the press following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Ranzi “Let me make clear, Matteo, that Israel doesn’t oppose a civilian nuclear program in Iran. We oppose a military nuclear program in Iran… The deal will give Iran within 13 years the ability to make as many centrifuges as they want, enrich as much uranium as they want to whatever level that they want, and this will put the Iranian Islamic state that practices terrorism worldwide, it will put it on the threshold of an entire nuclear arsenal.”

Ranzi and Netanyahu in Italy (AFP)

Netanyahu with Italian PM Ranzi (AP)

He went on to warn of the dangers of the nuclear deal and sanctions relief on Iran, stating, “investments to fuel its aggression and terrorism in the Middle East, in North Africa and beyond that. I think that this will make Iran far richer and far stronger militarily, and it will make it far more difficult to confront its nuclear ambitions in the future.”

31st of 34 needed senators endorses nuclear deal

Resolution blocking nuclear deal likely to not occur; Obama reassures strong US-Israel ties; Cheney compares nuclear deal to that of Munich deal

World powers, EU and Zarif (AFP)

World powers, EU and Zarif (AFP)

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley raised the number of senators to 31 out of the 34 necessary supporting the world powers and American nuclear deal made with Iran on Sunday. A final vote on a resolution to block the nuclear deal is required by September 17th.

Merkley described the nuclear deal as having “shortcomings” however, “many have argued that the United States, instead of implementing the agreement, should withdraw from it, persuade our partners to set the agreement aside and work together to negotiate a better deal. However, the prospects for this are slim. All of our partners … believe that the current deal — in regard to its central goal of blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb — is sound. They have committed the good faith of their governments behind the agreement and intend to honor the deal as long as Iran does likewise, with or without the United States.”

Meanwhile former US Vice President Dick Cheney criticized the nuclear deal in his op-ed “resting American exceptionalism”, Cheney comparing the “Obama nuclear agreement with Iran” as “tragically reminiscent of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s Munich agreement in 1938 stating that, “Each was negotiated from a position of weakness by a leader willing to concede nearly everything to appease an ideological dictator. Hitler got Czechoslovakia. The mullahs in Tehran get billions of dollars and a pathway to a nuclear arsenal. Munich led to World War II. The Obama agreement will lead to a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East and, more than likely, the first use of a nuclear weapon since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

However President Obamas assured that US-Israel relations are both “sacrosanct and it non partisan,” stating on Friday that, “As soon as this particular debate is over, my hope is that the Israeli government will immediately want to rejoin conversations that we started long before about how we can continue to improve and enhance Israel’s security in a very troubled neighborhood.”

Palestinians to hold first congress meeting in two decades

Meeting to occur in Ramallah mid-September; Abbas claims to retire

The Palestinian unity government formed April 2014

The Palestinian unity government formed April 2014

The Palestinians will hold their first congress meeting mid-September, their second congress meeting in over a decade.

Announced by the Palestine National Council, the meeting in Ramallah between Palestinian officials according to Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmad will “convene for a session on the upcoming 15th and 16th of September in Ramallah. The council’s agenda includes electing a new executive committee for the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

The announcement comes after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yet again retired last week, media speculation claiming the meeting will arrange or discuss future elections and induction of new leadership.

Hamas officials are to be part of the meeting despite fallouts with the Fatah party.

Hamas officials are to be part of the meeting despite fallouts with the Fatah party.

Hamas releases detailed video of new tunnels and infiltration scenarios

Video shows highly trained militants infiltrating Israel via tunnel network and attacking IDF sites

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 06.42.40

Hamas’s military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, released a video of the reconstruction of its terror tunnel network as well as new advanced training and infiltration techniques into Israel.

The video was released mid week and shows characters infiltrating Israel with use of weapons and fighting techniques showing not only their active digging, but also training of militants and learned tactics following last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.

The video portrays the use of machine guns, grenades, abduction techniques and use of highly sophisticated military equipment.

It is not secret that Hamas has resumed its tunnel digging, residents in southern Israel presenting the media and IDF with raw video footage of masked Hamas militants digging along the border fence. Hamas has additionally confirmed the construction of a main road currently being constructed on the border with Israel, a Hamas militant stating weeks ago that the road was meant for attacks involving vehicles.

Israel’s Defense Ministry and IDF have built a “smart fence” along and around the border with the Gaza Strip that detects suspicious behavior and alerts IDF troops of the location.

Israeli Air Force retaliates to rocket fire, hits Hamas weapons manufacturing facility

IAF retaliates, hits weapons manufacturing site following rocket attack

A smoke trail is seen as a rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel

The Israeli Air Force retaliated to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, hitting a weapons manufacturing facility.

The rocket landed in an open field close to the border with Gaza, with no injuries reported. The code red siren did not sound as the rocket was too close to the border.

The IDF confirmed that the target was a Hamas manufacturing weapons site and that it was a successful hit.

Iranian official: Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan

Despite reforms and reopening of British Embassy, many Iranian officials refusing more ”nuanced approach” with Israel; Hammond calls for need to distinguish between internal politics and foreign policy

Al-Quds rally (Reuters)

Al-Quds rally (Reuters)

The International Advisor to the speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Hussein Sheikholeslam, has rejected British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond call for a more “nuanced approach” with the State of Israel during the his visit to the region to reopen the British Embassy.

The embassy, which was reopened earlier this week, was closed in 2011 when 1,000 Iranians stormed the embassy calling for death to England, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

However, Iran’s international affairs advisor to the speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Hussein Sheikholeslam, stated that “Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all. Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan.”

On Tuesday morning, Iranian spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham denied the claims that Iran should hold a more “nuanced approach towards Israel” stating that in a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond that, “our country’s authorities elaborated on our country’s principles and firm stances on the international developments which calls for all-out confrontation against terrorism, occupation and extremism.”

Hammond responded to the comments made by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for the destruction of Israel, “We’ve got to… distinguish the internal political consumption rhetoric from the reality of the way they conduct their foreign policy.”