7 Hamas militants in Gaza Strip killed in terror tunnel collapse

Hamas’s military wing confirms death of 7 militants in tunnel collapse, with 4 reportedly surviving

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Hamas confirmed that 7 of its militants were killed while reconstructing a tunnel in the Gaza Strip over the weekend.

 

According to the terrorist organization, four survived and seven were killed when the tunnel collapsed, confirming already known reports that Hamas is actively constructing new tunnels and repairing destroyed tunnels into Israel and Egypt.

 

Hamas released the statement “The mujahedeen martyrs were repairing an old tunnel, from which a number of operations were executed in the [2014] war. The fathers of these martyrs should be proud. The whole world will witness the deeds of their tunnels against the [Israeli] occupier should they dare [to attack] our people and our land.”

 

During Operation Protective Edge over the summer of 2014, Israel’s Defense Force destroyed 32 terror tunnels, 14 of the tunnels with openings into Israeli territory. Hamas’s terror tunnel construction is financially supported by Iran and reports of funding from Hezbollah. According to reports by the IDF, each tunnel cost around $3 million to construct.

Israel, Cyprus & Greece announce creation of trilateral committee and plans for natural gas pipeline

Israel, Cyprus & Greece announce creation of trilateral committee and future cooperation in energy, technology, research, tourism, combatting terrorism and most importantly- gas

 

PM Netanyahu in Nicosia with Cyprus President Anastasiades and Greek PM Tsipras

Netanyahu, Anastasiades & Tsipras Thursday (GPO Haim Zach)

A monumental meeting was held between Prime Minister Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades on Thursday with historic cooperative agreements made in the fields of energy, tourism, technology and research.

The leaders announced the formation of a trilateral committee that will serve as a means “to strengthen the cooperation between our three countries in order to promote a trilateral partnership in different fields of common interest and to work together towards promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean and the wider region,” mainly that of the construction of a pipeline for gas exports from Israel’s gas reserves to Cyprus and Greece, a cooperative and collaborative boost in relations with Greece and Cyprus and advances in all three countries economies.

Prime Minister Netanyahu summarized the commitments and goals made from the trilateral meeting in a joint press conference following the meeting. He summarized them as “The first one is gas. We’ve been blessed, as you said, with natural gas in the sea. We decided to explore this in a very audacious way: to form a trilateral committee between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, to plan the possibility of a pipeline that would take our common resources of gas and export them to Europe via Greece – a pipeline from Israel, Cyprus through Greece to Europe. This is an audacious plan which goes alongside with our other plans vis-à-vis the exploitation of this energy resource. The second thing that we are embarking on is creating an interconnected underwater cable to connect the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and later on Greece, to have a common electric grid. This for us is a great change. For you too, and I think it strengthens very much Greece’s energy market as well, energy situation as well. These are two practical things that we are moving. By the way, they are connected because you can also export gas through electricity that empowers the electrical system.”

 

He ended his speech by stating “We can do a lot more with our current capabilities and our future capabilities – firefighting, search and rescue and the like. And the endemic problem of security and fighting terrorism. These are all areas – among others – that we are cooperating in. I think we can pledge that our trilateral cooperation will help bring the blessings of progress not only to the citizens of our three democracies, but also perhaps to the wider region by again helping stability, security, prosperity and God help us also, bring peace to you and to us.”

 

A joint statement from all three leaders following their meeting:

 

“We, Nikos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, and Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, having met in Nicosia today, 28th January 2016, have agreed to strengthen the cooperation between our three countries in order to promote a trilateral partnership in different fields of common interest and to work together towards promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean and the wider region.

 

In light of the underlying challenges and opportunities, and given the fluid and unstable situation in the region, our three countries, which share common democratic values, principles, and interests, have, to this end, agreed on the importance for closer cooperation and a coordinated set of policies.

 

Our partnership is not exclusive in design or nature, and we are ready to welcome other like-minded actors to join our efforts to promote coordination and cooperation, as well as regional peace and stability.

 

We agree to work closely together with a view to strengthening our cooperation on common projects, involving both public and private actors. In particular, we are examining practical means of cooperating and implementing joint projects and synergies in the fields of energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water management, combating terrorism, and migration.

Furthermore, we are exploring potential collaboration in a wide array of other fields, including agriculture, forestation, joint fire-fighting efforts, environmental protection including marine pollution, joint emergency response to natural disasters, exchange of information in emergency situations, joint search and rescue exercises, health, management of epidemics, joint scientific projects, development of renewable energy technologies, education, communications and trilateral roaming agreements, and commercial shipping.

The discovery of important hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean can serve as a catalyst for peace, stability and cooperation in the region. To this end, the three countries view the energy sector, and in particular, natural gas and renewable energy, as a solid foundation for cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.

We consider that trilateral energy projects, such as the “EuroAsia Interconnector”, are of strategic importance as they will create a mutually beneficial relationship between the energy markets of Israel and Cyprus with those of continental Europe. In addition, we express our strong support to the export of Eastern Mediterranean gas to continental Europe. In this context, we reiterate our readiness to further explore projects such as the “EastMed Pipeline”. We have agreed to work closely together promoting joint projects, which will enhance the security of energy supply. We invite neighbouring countries to explore possible synergies which can be implemented by working collectively on a regional basis.

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, we reaffirm our commitment to explore avenues of cooperation in the sphere of renewable energy through joint green-tech programs, in particular in the fields of solar energy, energy efficiency, fuel options for transportation and smart grids.

In addition, the three countries acknowledge the importance of tourism and the vast potential for a comprehensive collaboration towards encouraging the influx of tourists to the region by offering joint packages, including cruises and religious, medical and other thematic tourism. We agree to explore ways of sharing information and know-how in order to support local small tourism businesses, joint initiatives and more. The three competent Ministers agree to meet and examine the various facets.

We remain steadfastly committed to working together towards the enhancement of the bilateral relations between the European Union and Israel in areas of mutual interest and concern.

We stress the importance of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation for the countries of the region. On the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration, we welcome the role the Union for the Mediterranean can play to this end, as reflected in the EU Joint Communication on the Review of the European Neighborhood Policy of 18th November 2015.

We acknowledge the grave dangers posed by terrorism, both regionally and globally, and have agreed to continue joining forces with the international community to tackle this challenge. We strongly and unequivocally condemn all terrorist actions and call upon all States to confront this menace also through closer security cooperation. In light of the above, we have agreed to enhance our cooperation in this sphere by initiating trilateral dialogue between our competent Authorities. Efforts to curb the flow of foreign fighters, restrict financial and military support to terrorist groups, and counter extremist propaganda should intensify. Incitement to violence should be condemned and stopped.

On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27th January, the leaders paid homage to those perished during the Holocaust and condemned without reserve all manifestations of religious intolerance, xenophobia, antisemitism, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur.

We underline our willingness to join efforts for the protection of antiquities and for the preservation and development of historical and archaeological sites, aiming at safeguarding the historical memory of our peoples and the common heritage of mankind, as well as our readiness to cooperate for the protection of underwater cultural heritage and to promote such cooperation with neighboring countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The ongoing turmoil in our neighborhood has triggered unprecedented migratory flows that pose a challenge that can be met only by multilateral action that addresses the conditions that created these migratory flows, through comprehensive and holistic planning and strategies. It should address ways to ending hostilities, eradicating poverty and improving livelihoods through development. We are also committed to combating smuggling of people and reiterate our readiness to contribute to efforts designed to address the humanitarian aspects of the unfolding refugee crisis, in close cooperation with all concerned countries and actors.

We express our full and unwavering support to the ongoing negotiation process, under the United Nations Good Office Mission, for a just, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, based on international law and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Such a solution, which will reunify the island, based on the respect of democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, would not only benefit the people of Cyprus in its entirety, but also significantly contribute to the peace and stability of the region, through Cyprus’ independent foreign policy.

The Governments express their hope that the resumption of negotiations of the MEPP will conclude in a just and lasting solution.

We are convinced of the strategic nature and necessity of our trilateral cooperation and will continue working closely in order to realize its full potential, to the benefit of our countries and peoples, and to the wider region.

In this regard, we endorse the establishment of a Trilateral Steering Committee, which held its first official meeting earlier today, and which is tasked with identifying priorities, as well as overseeing and coordinating the implementation of our joint projects.

The three leaders have agreed that the next trilateral Summit will be held in Israel in the second half of 2016.”

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister: Where Does All That Aid for Palestinians Go?

Hotovely writes piece for Wall Street Journal exposing Palestinian use of foreign aid to fund terrorists and their families

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Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Hotovely, recently wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in which she exposes Palestinian use of foreign aid to support terrorism and families of terrorists.

 

In her article, she writes about how the Palestinian Authority funds families of terrorists with stipends (between $400-$3,500 monthly), reporting that in 2014 over $75 million was provided by the Authority to families of terrorists, 16 % of the funds from foreign donations. The report was made by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

 

She writes in her article:

 

One often-cited key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is economic development. To that end, there seems to be broad agreement about the importance of extending development aid to help the Palestinians build the physical and social infrastructure that will enable the emergence of a sustainable, prosperous society. But few have seriously questioned how much money is sent and how it is used.

 

Such assistance will only promote peace if it is spent to foster tolerance and coexistence. If it is used to strengthen intransigence it does more harm than good—and the more aid that comes in, the worse the outcome. This is exactly what has been transpiring over the past few decades. Large amounts of foreign aid to the Palestinians are spent to support terrorists and deepen hostility.

 

For years the most senior figures in the Palestinian Authority have supported, condoned and glorified terror. “Every drop of blood that has been spilled in Jerusalem,” President Mahmoud Abbas said last September on Palestinian television, “is holy blood as long as it was for Allah.” Countless Palestinian officials and state-run television have repeatedly hailed the murder of Jews.

 

Continue reading Hotovely’s article for the Wall Street Journal

***For legal purposes, we are not permitted to share the entire article***

UN Secretary-General: Palestinian violence result of “half a century of occupation”

Ki-moon claims Palestinian violence and terror result of occupation; Netanyahu responds harshly: The UN Secretary General’s remarks give a tailwind to terrorism.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu responded harshly to the United Nation’s General Secretary’s accusations Tuesday that the ongoing wave of Palestinian violence is a result of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians. Ki-moon claimed that ongoing terror attacks and violence perpetrated by “especially young people” is a result of “half a century of occupation”.

While Ban Ki-moon condemned Palestinian terror and ongoing violence, stating that “Stabbings, vehicle attacks and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians, all of which I condemn, and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives,” he proclaimed that “security measures alone will not stop the violence. They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people,” proclaiming that “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to the Secretary-General’s accusations stating “The UN Secretary General’s remarks give a tailwind to terrorism. There is no justification for terrorism. The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state – they want to destroy a state and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews simply because they are Jews and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.”

Netanyahu additionally stated that “The UN lost its neutrality and moral force a long time ago and the Secretary General’s remarks do not improve the situation.”

Majority of terror attacks have been carried out by younger Palestinians, Israeli media reporting just early this month on the reasons given by Palestinian youth and young adults for support and carrying out of terror attacks on Israelis. From research conducted, including extensive interviews, Palestinian youth claimed the “threats” on Al-Aqsa (The Dome of the Rock) and Islamic ideology as reason for violence and terror attacks on Israeli citizens.

Rouhani begins European diplomatic tour for economic integration and cooperation

Iranian President visit to include Italy and Rome; Rouhani: Lack of growth creates forces for terrorism. Unemployment creates soldiers for terrorists.

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 (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani began his diplomatic tour in Europe where he will visit officials in both Italy and France, his tour focused on restoring economic relations and integration of the Iranian economy into the European market following over 12 years of economic sanctions.

 

Rouhani arrived in Rome Monday, the first visit by an Iranian official to Europe in over a decade. He met with Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and President Sergio Mattarella. According to reports, there is over $18.4 billion in future cooperation and business between Iran and Italy.

 

Rouhani stated that “We began our trip in Italy because we have an ancient friendship with you. Italy was at one point our top commercial partner and the Iranian people have great memories of working with your business community, with your industrial economy: they always kept their commitments, they worked well, and we are sure there will be good co-operation between our two countries again.”

 

Rouhani announced that Iran is “ready to welcome investment, welcome technology and create a new export market,” stating intentions “under the new conditions, we want to export 30% of what we produce in Iran.”

 

Rouhani claimed that economic cooperation leading to jobs for Iranians would combat terror, stating “If we want to combat extremism in the world, if we want to fight terror, one of the roads before us is providing growth and jobs. Lack of growth creates forces for terrorism. Unemployment creates soldiers for terrorists.”

 

Rouhani will address Italy’s Confindustria business lobby group later Tuesday followed by a meeting scheduled with Pope Francis.

 

Rouhani will travel next to France, where he will meet with French President Francois Hollande and hold meeting with French officials on economic integration.

IDF responds to rocket fire with airstrike on Hamas military compound

Rocket fired from Gaza Strip into Israel Sunday night; Israeli Air Force retaliates

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

The Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes on a Hamas military compound early Monday in retaliation after a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Sunday evening.

 

IDF Spokesman Peter Lerner confirmed that the IDF “In response last nights rocket attack, IAF aircrafts targeted a Hamas military training facility in the central Gaza Strip.”

According to Palestinian media, Hamas facilities near Khan Younis were hit in the airstrike.

 

There were no injuries or damages from Sunday’s rocket attack.

Israel prepares for heavy winter storm

Storm to continue through out the week, bringing much needed rain; Snow in Mt. Hermon

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Israel is preparing for snow and a week of cold weather with forecasts of heavy rain to continue through out the country. The storm will bring much needed rainfall and lower temperatures through out the country.

 

The winter storm started in Israel over the weekend, both northern Israel and the Galilee region receiving the most rainfall over the weekend and a few centimeters of snow accumulating on Mt. Hermon and in the Golan Heights.

 

The winter storm will likely bring flooding in the center of Israel with a guarantee of flooding in the Negev desert. Snow will continue in northern Israel, with possible light snow in areas of the Galilee. Hail storms are also expected towards the end of the storm.

 

Israel’s coastal cities will experience heavy winds and rainfall, with predicted winds as high as 70-80 kph. Temperatures are to drop as low as 4 Celsius in Safed in northern Israel, 12 in Tel Aviv and 9 in Jerusalem.