King Salman of Saudi Arabia Meets With Hamas Leaders

18 Jul 2015   Gaza, Saudi Arabia

King Salman of Saudi Arabia met Friday with top political leaders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas , in the most striking example yet of the new king’s willingness to work with Islamist organizations long considered foes. Analysts with close ties to the Saudi royal family said the meeting appeared to reflect King Salman’s determination to rally as much of the Arab world as possible against Iran, the kingdom’s chief rival, at a time when the Saudis fear that Iran will emerge empowered by its deal with Western powers to lift economic sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program . The meeting was held in Mecca and included Khaled Meshal, Hamas ’s political leader who lives in Qatar. It was a startling reversal from the approach of the previous king, Abdullah, who had led a campaign to roll back or eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and […]

Protest Is Muted as Egypt Levels Border Area in Sinai

1 Nov 2014   Egypt, Gaza

Egyptian officials faced little popular backlash on Thursday after the military demolished dwellings and displaced thousands of people in a town bordering the Gaza Strip , suggesting the government still enjoyed wide latitude from the public to pursue a muscular anti-insurgency campaign, though it has delivered mixed results at best. The demolitions, which began on Wednesday, are part of a government plan to create a buffer zone on the border that the authorities assert will curb the flow of weapons and militants. The plan had been discussed for more than a year, and was finally implemented after a militant attack last week that killed at least 31 Egyptian soldiers. Residents of Rafah, the border town, said they were surprised by the speed with which they were ordered to abandon their homes. On Thursday, though, even as the evacuations continued, many of the displaced residents appeared to be […]

Gaza Cease-Fire Collapses; Israeli Soldier Is Captured

2 Aug 2014   Gaza

A newly reached cease-fire in the Gaza conflict quickly collapsed on Friday as the Israeli military announced that two soldiers had been killed and a third captured by Palestinian militants who emerged from a tunnel near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israelis responded with fierce assaults that left dozens more Palestinians dead. The United States and United Nations, which had orchestrated the cease-fire, joined with Israel in condemning the capture, and President Obama asserted that the soldier must be freed in order to salvage a halt to the 24-day-old crisis. Gaza health officials said more than 35 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded as Israeli forces bombarded the Rafah area. Palestinian witnesses said by telephone that Israeli tank shells had hit eastern Rafah as residents returned to inspect homes they had evacuated. Each side accused the other of violating the 72-hour truce, which […]

Arab Leaders, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel, Stay Silent

31 Jul 2014   Gaza

 Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting. Not this time. After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated cease-fire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed. “The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under […]

Gaza toll soars as Israel ‘days’ from completing tunnel hunt

31 Jul 2014   Gaza

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel pressed ahead with its Gaza offensive saying it was days from achieving its core goal of destroying all Islamist guerrilla cross-border attack tunnels, but a soaring Palestinian civilian toll has triggered international alarm. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet on Wednesday approved continuing the assault launched on July 8 in response to a surge of rocket attacks by Gaza’s dominant Hamas Islamists. Israel also sent a delegation to Egypt, which has been trying, with Washington’s blessing, to broker a ceasefire. A military source said some 16,000 reservists were being called up at short notice in the coming hours to relieve a similar number who would be stood down. Gaza officials say at least 1,361 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered enclave and nearly 7,000 wounded. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza clashes and more than 400 wounded. Three […]

Iran leader calls for arming Gaza to fight Israel

29 Jul 2014   Gaza, Iran, Israel

 Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday called on Muslims from around the world to help arm Gaza Palestinians in their fight against Israel. The call by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was his latest such message during the ongoing war between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel. Khamenei claims that while Israel and America seek to disarm Hamas, Iran says “the opposite … the Muslim World has a duty to arm the Palestinian nation by all means.” Iran, a staunch Hamas ally, does not recognize Israel and supports militant anti-Israeli groups such as the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group. Iran does not recognize Israel and has considered the Jewish state its archenemy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Western-backed monarchy and brought clerics to power Khamenei spoke at a prayer ceremony in Tehran as Shiite Iranians marked the beginning of Eid al-Fitr holiday that follows […]

Palestinian death toll rises in Gaza fighting; Israel thwarts infiltration attempts

22 Jul 2014   Gaza

The Palestinian death toll rose to more than 500 on Monday as Israel announced that it had prevented two more attempts by Hamas militants to infiltrate the nation via tunnels from the Gaza Strip. As international concern mounted over the growing casualties on both sides in the conflict, now in its 14th day, yet another diplomatic push was underway to bring about a cease-fire. U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were both expected in Cairo later Monday in hopes of finding a diplomatic resolution that has so far proved elusive. Israeli airstrikes continued to bombard Gaza on Monday — more than 50 Hamas targets were attacked, including two weapons manufacturing sites, six underground rocket launchers and five tunnels, Israel’s military said. Over the past few hours, Israel reported intense rocket fire across its southern communities, reaching up to Tel […]

Israel warns of widening ground war in Gaza

19 Jul 2014   Gaza

. Israel intensified its 11-day campaign against Hamas by sending in tanks and troops late Thursday after becoming increasingly exasperated with unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza on its cities, especially following Hamas’ rejection of an Egyptian cease-fire plan earlier in the week.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that Israel was preparing for a possible widening of its ground war in the Gaza Strip, a day after its troops crossed into the territory and the death toll from the 11-day-old operation, including that of the first Israeli soldier, rose. Israel called up 18,000 reserve troops overnight as it began what it described as a targeted operation to wipe out tunnels from which Hamas and other militant groups operate, a gambit Mr Netanyahu said might be broadened into a bigger ground war. More On […]

A Push Into Gaza, but the Ground Has Shifted

19 Jul 2014   Gaza

As Israeli troops once again operated inside the Gaza Strip on Friday, the risks of a deep entanglement, a failure to curb the rocket fire, and the condemnation of civilian casualties were all too apparent. Twice before, Israel has battled Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that dominates Gaza, and twice before, Israel has halted under international pressure without eliminating the threat of rocket fire. But this time, officials and analysts say, the landscape is different. Israel has publicly framed a clear agenda targeting tunnels it says militants built to store weapons or stage attacks on its territory. This time, a weakened Hamas cannot turn to Egypt for respite. This time, Western leaders appear more patient: President Obama expressed concern Friday about “the loss of more innocent life” but also said no nation should be subjected to a hail of rockets or underground incursions. The start of the […]

Israeli Invasion of Gaza Is Likely, Official Says; Brief Cease-Fire Is Set

17 Jul 2014   Gaza, Israel

TEL AVIV — Even as Israel and Hamas agreed to suspend hostilities briefly on Thursday at the request of the United Nations, a senior Israeli military official said that his government was increasingly likely to order a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip that it had hoped to avoid. Though Israel initially set limited goals of halting the rocket assaults against it and degrading Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates Gaza, the group’s tenacity and surprisingly deep arsenal have led to widespread calls to expand the mission. The military official said only “boots on the ground” could eradicate terrorism from Gaza and indicated that Israel was even considering a long-term reoccupation of the coastal territory. But with the Palestinian death toll reaching 214 on Wednesday, Israel and the Gaza militants agreed to end the violence for five hours on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For Israel, it […]

Natural Gas Discoveries Fueling Gaza Crisis?

16 Jul 2014   Gaza

Yesterday [Tuesday July 8th], Israeli defence minister and former Israeli Defence Force (IDF) chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon announced that Operation Protective Edge marks the beginning of a protracted assault on Hamas. The operation “won’t end in just a few days,” he said, adding that “we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas.” This morning, he said: “We continue with strikes that draw a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying weapons, terror infrastructures, command and control systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, the houses of terrorists, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command… The campaign against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very heavy.” But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Ya’alon’s concerns focused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas […]

Natural gas field discovered on Gaza’s coast

3 Mar 2014   Gaza

Palestinian MP Dr Salem Salama, a member of the economic committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council, announced that the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip has discovered a natural gas field off the coast of the central province. In remarks to Sout Al-Aqsa on Monday morning, he noted that the field is only 200 to 300 meters away from the central province’s beach, which means that the natural gas can be easily extracted. “The fact that the field is so close to the beach will facilitate the work of any company that might invest in this field. The return will be great for the Gaza Strip, in economic terms” , he added. Salama also revealed that the Palestinian Legislative Council has summoned the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Economy to provide more details about the subject and to discuss the government’s […]

Abbas ‘seeks $1B deal with Russia on Gaza natural gas field

24 Jan 2014   Gaza

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Jan. 23 (UPI) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in Moscow on a four-day visit seeking to secure a $1 billion deal with Russia to develop a natural gas field off the Gaza Strip, The move would expand what appears to be a determined Russian push into the energy-rich Eastern Mediterranean, Russian media reports indicated. Russia signed a 25-year agreement with Syria’s embattled regime Dec. 25 that gives Russia’s state-controlled Soyuzneftegaz exclusive exploration, development and production rights over 850 square miles of Syrian waters, Moscow’s first real foothold in the booming Levant Basin. The U.S. Geological Survey reported in 2010 that the basin, which covers Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus and the Gaza Strip, contains at least 123 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil. The Syrian deal gives Russian President Vladimir Putin a way into a region whose resources have […]

Fuel crisis creating Gazan emergency, U.N. says

27 Nov 2013   Gaza

U.N. special envoy for Palestinian rights Richard Falk said Tuesday the lack of electricity for 1.7 million residents in Gaza Strip is sparking a catastrophe. “The fuel shortage and power cuts have undermined an already precarious infrastructure, severely disrupting the provision of basic services, including health, water and sanitation,” he said in a statement. “The onset of winter is certain to make things even worse.” Falk said the only power plant in Gaza Strip closed down three weeks ago because of a fuel shortage. Most Gazans have power for about six hours per day. This lack of electricity has crippled much of the region’s infrastructure. Falk said about 3,000 residents of the Gazan neighborhood of Az Zeitoun have been wading through raw sewage because a treatment plant there overflowed as a result of a power failure. Falk warned that other water treatment facilities […]

Israel drills disputed West Bank oilfield with 3.5B barrels

7 Nov 2013   Gaza, Israel, Oil Supply

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov. 6 (UPI) — Israel’s Givot Olam oil company says it’s exploring an oil field that could contain 3.53 billion barrels of crude, which along with the rich natural gas fields the Jewish state’s found under the Mediterranean Sea seems set to make it a regional energy power. There’s only one problem: Most of the Meged field, where Givot Olam started drilling in 2011, appears to lie in Palestinian West Bank, which Israel has occupied since June1967. On Tuesday, just hours before U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry arrived to press Israel on Washington’s latest peace initiative, Israeli negotiators told the Palestinians that the Separation Wall the Jewish state’s building across the West Bank will mark the border with a future Palestinian state. That would mean almost the entire Meged, which starts just inside Israel near the pre-1967 Green Line that separates the Jewish state from […]

Gaza gas now a ‘serious prospect.’ says Tony Blair

18 Oct 2013   Gaza

GAZA, Oct. 17 (UPI) — The prospect of the impoverished Palestinian Authority finally being able to develop a natural gas field 20 miles off the Gaza Strip’s Mediterranean coast, 13 years after it was discovered, is looking increasingly good amid U.S.-led efforts to bolster the Palestinian economy. “For the first time in over a decade, there’s a serious prospect Gaza gas will actually happen,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair , divulged this week. “The Palestinian side is resolved; the Israeli side will take a little longer,” he told the Financial Times in Jerusalem. Although the project seems much closer to fruition than it’s ever been, previous plans to encourage peace efforts in the Middle East have crashed in flames because of the abiding hostility between the two sides and the continuing 46-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Blair is the Jerusalem-based representative of the Middle East Quartet, […]