Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-16-18

Tunnel Busting
The IDF neutralized a massive Hamas tunnel over the weekend by pouring cement into it. The tunnel crossed around 20 meters into Israeli territory in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted about the incident, saying, “We’ve opened the week with an impressive intelligence and operational achievement with the destruction of another tunnel, the longest and deepest exposed thus far. “Millions of dollars were invested in its excavation, money that would have been better served mitigating the plight of residents but has now sunk into the sand. Gaza residents, Hamas is frittering away your money on tunnels leading nowhere. We will get to them all.”  

The IDF has destroyed 8 terror tunnels in the last few months and expects to locate and destroy more in the future. An IDF spokesman said, “The army has been carrying out a methodical, operational, intelligence and technological mission to locate terror tunnels while construction on the barrier is ongoing to defend Israelis and the country’s sovereignty.”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that “Israel is the first in the world capable of locating and intercepting tunnels underground.”
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Heated Exchange
Senior Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat wrote a letter to all foreign diplomats stationed in Ramallah, denouncing US negotiator Jason Greenblatt and urging the diplomats to press the International Criminal Court at The Hague to charge Israel over “ongoing Israeli crimes against Palestine”. He wrote, “During the past few weeks, Mr. Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s envoy, has released several statements on the ongoing attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza whereby he has assumed the role of spokesperson of the Israeli Authorities.”

In response, Greenblatt tweeted, “Saeb Erakat’s personal attack on me is a symptom of the difficulties in the path to peace. Saeb knows there’s no truth to his accusation. This outburst, like all his recent outbursts, is merely intended as a distraction from the important work that lies ahead. But this empty, self-indulgent rhetoric won’t stop us from trying. Saeb: It’s time to time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Or, you can continue to run in circles, and get pretty much nowhere!”

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Saudi King
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman kicked off an Arab League summit yesterday by criticizing US President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said, “We reiterate our rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories.”

The king also said, “Saudi Arabia announces $150 million grant to support the administration of Jerusalem’s Islamic property.” Let’s hope they put that money to good use.

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Dead Sea
The Prime Minister’s Office announced Sunday that it would be investing NIS 417 million shekels ($118.5 million) over the next four years to help Dead Sea area communities deal with the increasing problem of sinkholes and their negative impact on tourism.

The Dead Sea shoreline is receding by about one meter (three feet) per year thanks to natural evaporation, diversion of water from the Jordan River to the north for agricultural purposes, and the pumping out of water at the southern end by the Dead Sea Works for the extraction of salts and minerals. As the shoreline is increasingly exposed, freshwater rushes in and dissolves what used to be underwater layers of salt, causing the surface earth above these layers to collapse inwards.

Today, there are more than 6,000 sinkholes on the western side of the Dead Sea, with new ones showing up daily. The sinkholes have destroyed the public beaches in the northern part of the sea and are responsible for the loss of nearly 40 places of employment in the economically depressed area.

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Northern Stimulus
Israel will allocate $27 million (NIS 95 million) to establish food-tech research and activity in Kiryat Shmona, the northernmost city near the Lebanese border. The planned food-tech hub will include the establishment of a new 161458.66-square-foot (15,000 square meters) micro industry hub, a national food tech research institute, and a startup accelerator. Part of the budget will be used to incentivize startups and companies to launch activity in the region.

The Israeli government approved the plan on Sunday, as part of an economic development plan that will see the establishment of seven dedicated tech hubs in areas of the country that are far from Tel Aviv.

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