September 17, 2018

IDF Neutralizes Bomb On Gaza Border

IDF forces on Thursday (13th) safely detonated a bomb they had exposed earlier in the week on the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

“The terror squad that planted the bomb had plans to attack soldiers and disrupt the activity of the forces operating in the area,” an IDF statement said.

According to the IDF, the bomb was placed under the cover of the weekly riots on Friday (7th).

“The placing of the explosive charge by the terrorist cell in the context of the violent disturbances is further evidence that the Hamas terrorist organization is working to preserve the confrontation in the area of the fence and to harm IDF soldiers, while using civilians in the Gaza Strip as human shields and as cover for terrorist activity,” an IDF spokesperson stated.

“The IDF is ready and is acting against terrorism that seeks to harm its forces and defense infrastructure and will act against it as needed,” the spokesperson added.

Terror incidents are a daily occurrence  on the Israeli border with Gaza.

Israeli military aircraft opened fire on a group of Gazans attempting to launch flammable balloons from northern Gaza into Israeli civilian areas on Friday (7th).  Reports from the area indicated that two people were injured.



Israel Denies Report That Saudi Arabia Purchased Iron Dome

The Israeli Defense Ministry on Thursday (13th) denied an Arabic media report that Saudi Arabia had purchased the Iron Dome missile defense system.

“We deny the existence of a deal to sell Iron Dome to Saudi Arabia,” the Defense Ministry said in an emailed statement.

Al-Khaleej Online, an Arabic news site with offices in the UK and the Persian Gulf, had reported earlier in the day that Saudi Arabia bought Iron Dome from Israel, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

The report did not specify how many Iron Dome batteries Saudi Arabia had allegedly purchased.  However, it asserted that the first battery will arrive in Saudi Arabia in December and be placed near its border with Yemen.

For more than the past three years, a Saudi-led coalition had been fighting a war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The report also claimed that Saudi Arabia had “convinced Israel to sell Iron Dome through American interlocutors” in “secret tripartite meetings that took place in Washington.”  

Iron Dome protects against short-range rockets, mortars and artillery shells.  In the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, Iron Dome intercepted hundreds of projectiles launched at Israeli towns near the Gaza border and other parts of the country.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a state-owned defense contractor that manufactures Iron Dome alongside the Israel Aerospace Industries company, also denied the report in Al-Khaleej Online.

“The report is not true,” Amit Zimmer, a spokesman for Rafael, told Israeli media.



Liberman Visits Georgia, Signs Defense Cooperation Agreements

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman traveled to Georgia on Wednesday (12th), signing agreements with the eastern European nation on counterterrorism and cybersecurity cooperation.

Liberman was the first acting Israeli defense minister to visit Georgia, with which Israel has had diplomatic relations since 1992.

“On the issue of defense cooperation, we have set out four main objectives: cybersecurity, help in establishing a military reserves system, fighting terror and defending the homeland,” Liberman said.

The defense minister also praised Israeli-Georgian economic ties and Georgia’s Jewish community,” his office said.

Israel and Georgia established diplomatic ties shortly after the latter declared independence from the former Soviet Union in 1992.

Israel supported Tbilisi during its 2008 war with Russian-backed troops over the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, saying it recognized the “territorial integrity of Georgia.”

Over the years, Israel has also sold a number of weapons systems to the eastern European nation and has also trained members of the Georgian armed forces in Israeli military tactics and strategy.



Czech Leaders Endorse Israeli Embassy Move To Jerusalem

Czech leaders on Wednesday (12th) endorsed moving the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following a similar move by the US administration earlier this year.

In a joint statement, the Czech president, prime minister, parliament speaker and the foreign and defense ministers said the opening of a “Czech House” there in November would be “the first step in the plan to move the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.”

Jiri Ovcacek, spokesman for the pro-Israeli President Milos Zeman, told AFP that the Czech House would shelter government institutions including the foreign ministry’s Czech Center, the trade agency Czech Trade and tourism agency Czech Tourism.

“The Czech House in Jerusalem will be ceremonially opened by President Milos Zeman during his visit to Israel in November,” Ovcacek said.

Zeman, 73, promoted the embassy move even before US President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14.

The Czech embassy has been in Tel Aviv since 1949, except during the interruption of diplomatic relations under the former communist regime in Prague between 1967 and 1990.



Israel Prepares For Diplomatic Relations With Muslim Nation Chad

Chad and Israel have been quietly discussing the renewal of diplomatic relations for three months, according to a report Wednesday (12th) on Israel’s Channel 10 News.

The ball started rolling in May, said the report, when Israel’s UNESCO ambassador, Carmel Shama-Hacohen received a visit from a Rabbi Avraham Moyal and a French-Jewish businessman, Philip Solomon.  They told him that President Idriss Deby wanted to start talks on the diplomatic front, and the Foreign Ministry told Shama-Cohen to go ahead.

Perhaps indicating the seriousness with which the president is taking the issue, the report added that Deby would like to send his son in the near future as his personal emissary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the possibilities.

This would not be the first time such an agreement was rumored to be imminent, with the Hebrew press relaying unconfirmed reports in 2005 that Chad was set to renew relations.  Much more recently however, in June 2016, Netanyahu swung through four African states – Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya – and emphasized the importance to his government of rejuvenating ties with other countries on the continent.

Just a few weeks later, the overwhelmingly Muslim, West African Republic of Guinea re-established relations with Israel.  In mid-July, then-Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold flew to Chad to meet Deby in his palace, which Israel considered “an important step in our relations with Chad,” as the Foreign Ministry spokesman said at the time.

Chad is definitely interested in relations with Israel and its technology.  Perhaps more important is Israel’s counter terrorism expertise, as Chad shares a border with Libya which is constantly in a state of infighting between factions that include radical Islamists.