Monday, March 05, 2012

5-Mar-12: The Egypt-Israel gas pipeline has just been exploded for the 13th time in 13 months

Exactly a month ago, on February 5, we reported here on the twelfth time the gas pipeline bringing gas from Egypt to Israel was sabotaged. Make that thirteen.

Our report from exactly a month ago
Reuters reported 30 minutes ago that the pipeline was bombed earlier today, the thirteenth such attack since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011.
"The attack on the installation that crosses the increasingly volatile Sinai region occurred in the Massaeed area west of the Mediterranean coastal town of al-Arish, in north Sinai. Witnesses in al-Arish told Reuters that they could see flames from their town when the attack took place. Security in Sinai was relaxed after Mubarak's fall as the police presence thinned out across Egypt. Egypt's 20-year gas deal with Israel, signed in the Mubarak era, is unpopular with some Egyptians, with critics accusing Israel of not paying enough for the fuel. Previous explosions have sometimes led to weeks-long shutdowns along the pipeline run by Gasco, a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS. Gasco said that it resumed pumping gas to households and Industrial factories in al-Arish and began experimental pumping to Jordan and Israel last week."
As we noted last month,
"it looks more and more like a metaphor for relations between the two countries. Terrorists are blamed again, but it's clear that Egypt either won't or can't prevent this kind of thing from happening which means changes are inevitably on the way."

5-Mar-12: Quote of the Day - On nuclear weapons development "Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation" says UN agency

Yukiya Amano, the International Atomic Energy Agency director-general, addressing its board of governors in Vienna today [from the IAEA website]
  • "The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme.
  • "Iran did not grant access to the Parchin site during [January and February] visits, as requested by the Agency. 
  • "Since my last report...[Iran's] tripling of monthly production of 20% enriched UF6 in Iran as four cascades started operation at Fordow for the first time
  • "Fifteen additional cascades at Natanz; the start of production at Esfahan of fuel plates and a fuel assembly for use in the Tehran Research Reactor; and the start of fabrication of fuel pellets and rods for use in the Iran Nuclear Research Reactor, the IR-40.
  • "[The IAEA] is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.
How worried should we be getting at this point?

5-Mar-12: Terrorist attack on Jewish village foiled this morning

Elon Moreh, a village in Samaria, with Mt Gerizim
and the city of Nablus, called Shechem in Hebrew,
off in the distance
Far from the media swarms and the rent-a-crowd 'protests', the ongoing confrontation between Israeli society and the terrorists embedded among our neighbors goes on daily.

This morning, the focus - for the relative few who know about such matters or care to know - of that confrontation was Elon Moreh. It's a community that was established in the mid-1970s over the opposition of critics who claimed that allowing Jews to set down homes near Nablus, in the heartland of Biblical Jewish history, was going to antagonize the Kingdom of Jordan who had controlled the area previously. The Jordanians barely managed to defeat Yasser Arafat's Palestinian forces seeking to overthrow the monarchy in 1970. In 1988 they permanently relinquished their claims to the West Bank [source] and are now long gone from the neighbourhood. Their claims in any event had no foundation in international law or history. A thriving Jewish village of some 1,200 people today, Elon Moreh is in the vicinity of Itamar, Har Bracha and Yitzhar.

On the other hand, for at least two millenia, Jews have traditionally reckoned Elon Moreh to be the place where Abraham had been told by the Almghty: “To your descendants will I give this land” (Genesis 12:6) and where Abraham's grandson Jacob later purchased land (Genesis 33:19). Skeptics will question whether Jacob and Abraham heard this or even whether they existed. But it's far more difficult for them to deny that Jews have held this belief about their historical forebears as part of Judaism's written tradition stretching back far longer than most of today's cultures have had a written tradition.

This morning, two knife-wielding Arab terrorists tried to infiltrate the village [source]. They were spotted around 8:45 a.m. from the community's watch position, approaching the fence that surrounds Elon Moreh. Aware that they were seen, they fled to a nearby village, Azmut. The Elon Moreh security coordinator promptly called in the army who entered the village in battalion-sized strength. An interesting note appears in Ynet's report: that the two would-be terrorists were refused shelter by several of the Azmut residents and eventually the headmaster of the local school turned them over to the IDF who apprehended and disarmed them.

They turn out to be residents of Balata, sometimes called a refugee camp but actually a town established more than sixty years ago near Nablus and with a population today of some 30,000. Balata was in the news in November 2007 when Palestinian Authority "police" got into a firefight with terrorists from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (they owe allegiance to Fatah) who, in the words of Wikipedia, had turned it into "a military stronghold".

If only all terror attacks ended as neatly and successfully as today's.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

4-Mar-12: Dealing (or not) with the problems of a sick society

Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek hospital got its start
in 1902
A considerable number of notables are among the tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs who have undergone life-saving surgery in Israel's hospitals during the past two decades. They include ministers in one or another of the Palestinian governments, as well as a former mufti of Jerusalem.

Many dozens of Palestinian Arab physicians get advanced training in Israeli hospitals every year - up to and including today. On an ongoing basis, many of them seek the advice and counsel  of Israeli professional colleagues in treating patients who have been admitted to Palestinian Arab hospitals, and vice versa. There should be nothing jaw-dropping about this - it's what you expect under normal circumstances.

A penetrating analysis by the Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh - an uncommonly courageous voice in this region, as we have noted numerous times in the past - appeared two days ago on the Stonegate Institute website. Entitled "The Hate Business", it begins by describing how thousands of Palestinian Arab patients get medical treatment in Israeli hospitals each year - but a visit by Israeli physicians to Ramallah last week was met with malevolent, even furious, opposition.
The Shaare Zedek Medical Center campus
about ten years ago. From personal experience,
we can testify to the relatively low-friction interaction
of Arabs and Jews in this and every other
Israeli hospital, and to the high quality
of Shaare Zedek's medicine and professional care.
"The Israeli physicians arrived in Ramallah as part of a tour that was organized by the Palestinian Authority... [Their presence] drew furious reactions from the workers at the medical compound and many Palestinians, including the Western-backed Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian fury over the visit of the Israeli medical team to Ramallah is a sign of increased radicalization among Palestinians. It is also a severe blow to those Israelis and Palestinians who continue to talk about coexistence and peace between the two sides... Fatah activists in Ramallah denounced the tour as a form of "normalization" with Israel... [but] if anyone stands to lose from boycotting Israeli physicians it is the Palestinians themselves. Because the Palestinian Authority has not invested enough in improving medical services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past two decades, many Palestinians continue to rely on Israel for proper medical treatment... Palestinians who are opposed to "normalization" with Israeli physicians are the victims of years of indoctrination and messages of hate emanating from their leaders and media. And some Palestinians have become so enriched by hatred that it it would not pay for them to stop."
The whole article is worth reading. It's yet another reminder for those who prefer to look the other way that much of the conflict that embitters lives on both sides of the Arab/Israel divide is driven by hatred, pure and simple. A hatred, it must be said, that is entirely asymmetrical, as attested to by the sounds of spoken Arabic in hospital wards throughout Israel.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

3-Mar-12: Incoming Gazan missiles crashes into southern Israel, making zero impact (again) on non-Israeli news editors

Two Qassam rockets from the terrorism-addicted irregular forces arrayed in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip crashed into southern Israel on Friday night [Times of Israel].

Tonight - about an hour ago, around 9 pm - another Qassam rocket crashed into the Eshkol region of Israel's southern desert [according to the IDF], home to some 11,000 Israeli civilians. Fortunately the reports [Ynet] say no injuries or damage, but for families left to scramble for shelter or try to find their children or other loved ones when yet another indiscriminately-fired explosive comes crashing into their area, the nightmare is a continuing one.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

1-Mar-12: Incoming missile warnings being sounded now in Ashkelon region

Too early to know the result but there are reports of Color Red anti-missile warning sirens being sounded in southern Israel, around Ashkelon, in the past ten minutes (it's now 5:10 pm, Israel time).

UPDATE Thursday night: It's the heaviest winter rain of the season and people don't go out of doors if they don't have to. Unless it's to fire missiles into the homes of the hated enemy on the other side of the fence, which is that the terrorist gangs of Hamas-controlled Gaza have been doing this evening. Ynet says three Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza into the Hof Ashkelon (that's Ashkelon Beach) region in the early evening. Fortunately there are no reports of injuries or serious damage, but it's worth noting that the Color Red rocket alert system detected a fourth launch, and security forces were searching for its landing site.