Hamas: Underground barrier is a “declaration of war”

Underground barrier under construction to extend into Mediterranean Sea; Hamas threatens Israel, claims it will “prevent” Israel’s “declaration of war”

A smuggling tunnel between Gaza and Egypt (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90))

 

Hamas warned Israel against constructing an underground barrier on the Gaza border, threatening retaliation and claiming it to be a “declaration of war”.

The underground barrier, which will be built on the Gaza border with Israel and Gaza border with Egypt will also extend into the Mediterranean Sea. The barrier will include smart, sensory technology to detect tunnel construction.

Hamas warned Israel that the construction of the barrier as an “declaration of war”, the terrorist organization threatening Israel releasing the statement “This is a declaration of war. We will not allow the occupation to carry out its plots and crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and we will prevent the construction of this barrier by all means… The entry of the occupation army’s troops and equipment into the Gaza Strip to carry out this work is tantamount to a military incursion into Gaza and Hamas will respond accordingly. We will not sit idly by and we will respond with force the likes of which Israel has never known.”

Israel responded, warning Hamas that it had “mapped Hamas assets hidden under civilian sites in Gaza”, stating “The location of the tunnel shafts in these buildings is intended to disguise them under civilian cover. In wartime, these exploited locations become legitimate military targets under international law.”

Israel announced it would begin constructing an additional underground barrier on the border with Egypt to prevent ISIS from infiltrating Israel through the use of tunnels earlier this month. The latest project is the same subterranean barrier currently being constructed on the border with the Gaza Strip.

The underground barrier on the border with Gaza is Israel’s third defense barrier to be constructed on the border. The first barrier was constructed post-Oslo Accords in 1994, the second following the disengagement from the Strip in 2005. During the disengagement, over 8,500 Israeli, Jewish citizens were pulled from their homes as an effort for resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The Gaza Strip was then taken over by Hamas. Since then, Israel has been subject to rocket attacks and terror tunnels into Israeli territory for over a decade.

In February of this year, Egypt destroyed a Hamas smuggling tunnel from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian military located and destroyed the tunnel that went 20 meters underground. The tunnel was used for smuggling weapons, had oxygen tanks and was wired for outside communication.

In January of 2017, Egypt destroyed 12 smuggling tunnels from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula.

Trump to send delegation to Middle East to “enhance the chances for peace”

Kushner, Greenblatt & Powell to visit region; Meetings to be held with officials from Israel, PA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Egypt & Jordan; PA: Washington is marching to Israel’s drum and accepting every mistake it makes, while dismissing the Palestinians.

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President Trump announced he is sending senior officials to the Middle East to advance the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Special Advisor to President Trump Jared Kushner will visit the region alongside Special Representative for Foreign Affairs Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser, Dina Powell.

The Trump Administration released the statement on Friday “To enhance the chances for peace, all parties need to engage in creating an environment conducive to peacemaking while affording the negotiators and facilitators the time and space they need to reach a deal.”

The officials will reportedly visit with officials in Israel, the PA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

Their visit comes after the Palestinian Authority claimed it had lost confidence in the Trump Administration, a senior official reporting to Israeli media, “Washington is marching to Israel’s drum and accepting every mistake it makes, while dismissing the Palestinians.”

The official claimed that Israel is receiving “full backing” from the United States, but that it continues “to exclude the Palestinian Authority from talks with Jordan and Egypt,” claiming that it “gives us reason for concern about a possible regional plan that would come at the expense of the Palestinian issue.”

The official warned that the PA would “continue the diplomatic intifada, we will isolate Israel diplomatically, and use every method that international law allows against it” referring to the Palestinians ongoing efforts against the State of Israel and the United Nations and international organizations.

Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Trump’s delegation, stating on Sunday during his weekly cabinet meeting “Trump will soon be sending Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt for talks in the region, and of course Jerusalem, in an effort to jump-start a diplomatic process…We of course will welcome them as always.”

Archeologists discover 2,000 year-old quarry and workshop in lower Galilee

Second significant find in two weeks time; Discovery gives insight to Jewish observance of purity laws; Discovery leads archeologists to believe that the vessels of the water Jesus turned to wine may have been produced in Israel

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Israeli archeologists have made another significant discovery this month, a 2,000 year-old chalkstone quarry and vessel workshop in the lower Galilee dating to the Roman Period.

The Israel Antiquities Authority confirmed the discovery on Thursday, the fourth workshop of this kind in Israel to be discovered.  Archeologists have been digging and researching the area in Reina after finding a similar workshop in the region. Two of the previously discovered quarries near Jerusalem.

The archeologists found thousands of fragments of stone mugs and chalkstone cores, leading them to the believe that Jews in the Galilee, not just near Jerusalem, observed purity laws, the discovery to allow researchers to understand how long Jews in the region observed such laws during the Roman period.

The discovery of the chalkstone quarry was made in a cave close to the ancient city of Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, leading archeologists to consider that the “large stone containers of the type mentioned in the wedding at Cana of Galilee story may have been produced locally in the Galilee.”

As explained by the director of the dig, Dr. Yonatan Adler, “The reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious. According to ancient Jewish ritual law, vessels made of pottery are easily made impure and must be broken. Stone, on the other hand, was thought to be a material that can never become ritually impure, and as a result, ancient Jews began to produce some of their everyday tableware from stone…. The finished products were marketed throughout the region here in Galilee, and our finds provide striking evidence that Jews here were scrupulous regarding the purity laws.”

Last week, archeologists in northern Israel reported to possibly have found the Roman city of Julias, the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip. The discovery was made at Beit Habek in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve on the shores of the Sea of Galilee by a group of archeologists from the Institute of Galilean Archeology.

Julias was built on Bethsaida by the King Herod Phillipus, son of King Herod the Great. The city was named after Julias Augusta, the mother of Emperor Tiberius.

Representative from Iran, Russia and Turkey meet on Syria in Tehran

Meetings on Syria de-escalation zones underway in Tehran; All three states sign major oil and gas fields development project, as Turkish-Russian-Iranian relations increase

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Foreign ministers and representatives from Turkey and Russia began holding meetings with their Iranian counterparts in Tehran, the talks centered on Syria. This is the sixth round of talks on Syria to be held.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated ahead of the meeting that leaders would “continue the talk on further strengthening the regime of de-escalation zones in Syria,” and that talks will center on Idlib, stating “Three de-escalation zones are already operating in southern Syria, Eastern Ghouta and north of Homs, but the parties are working on the largest zone in the province of Idlib.”

All three states signed a deal to establish de-escalation zones in Syria this summer during talks held in Astana.

The meeting comes the same week a meeting between Russia and Iran was held on increasing military cooperation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan meeting to discuss additional sales of Russian arms to Iran.

Additionally on Wednesday, reports surfaced that Iran, Turkey and Russia had all signed a deal on investment in oil and gas fields. According to the Shana News Agency, companies from all three states “have signed an agreement on joint investments in oil and gas fields’ development projects… to finance projects both in Iran and outside the country.”

Russia continues to be Iran’s main military and arms seller, Iran purchasing the S-300 missile defense system from Russia, the arms deal renegotiated before sanctions were removed from the Islamic Republic of Iran under the nuclear deal between world powers and the United States under the Obama Administration.

Russia and Turkey are in talks for the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirming in April that negotiations are under way since 2016. A spokesman for Putin also confirmed that talks were held between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodan during their meeting in Sochi.

In November 2016, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik confirmed that Turkey and Russia are negotiating the arms deal, Isik stating “Our talks on S-400 are not only held with Russia, but also with other countries that have similar systems. Russia’s position on this issue now is positive,” adding that Turkey hopes “that the NATO member states consider this topic very seriously…. But this does not mean that we will ignore Russia’s proposals. We are pushing ahead with proactive work in this direction. Our ultimate goal is to start producing these systems on our own.”

 

Photo: AP

Netanyahu announces Israel-Africa summit in October

Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo who will arrive in Jerusalem Monday; PM announces Israel-Africa conference in Oct., reports of efforts by states to cancel conference

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Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo this week.

The meeting is part of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ongoing efforts to improve and increase Israel’s relations with Africa. The president will arrive in Israel Monday for five-day tour.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his itinerary with President Gnassingbé as well as reported that he will travel again to Africa in two months time to participate in Israel-Africa conference in Togo. This will be his third visit to Africa in the past year.

The conference, to be attended by 20-25 African states, will include over 150 Israeli companies represented. The conference will focus on diverse areas such business, trade, technology, agriculture, energy, academia, counter-terrorism and cyber security.

The prime minister stated on Sunday “I will host the President of Togo. I will talk with him about – inter alia – the Africa-Israel conference that Togo is due to host in about two months. This will be my third visit to Africa in a little over a year: First East Africa, then West Africa and now an economic-technological conference for the countries of Africa, with a clear goal – to bring Israel back to Africa in a big way.”

He also reported that the Togo President has been pressured to cancel the conference in Lome, Prime Minister Netanyahu stating to his cabinet “This is not taking place without contrary pressure. Various pressures have been placed on the Togolese President to cancel the conference. These pressures are the best testimony to the success of our policy, of Israel’s presence in Africa. Last week Cape Verde announced that it will not vote against us in UN institutions. This is important and it attests to success. Of course I will speak with the Togolese President about ways to deepen and expand Israel’s presence in Africa.”