Tag Archives: Gaza

Israel: Gaza-bound Iranian rockets had 100-mile range

Israeli soldiers work around containers with boxes containing missiles and weapons unloaded from the seized KLOS C civilian cargo ship, in the military port at the Red Sea city of Eilat, southern Israel, Sunday, March 9, 2014

EILAT, Israel – Israel’s military said Sunday that a cargo ship it intercepted in the Red Sea last week carried 40 rockets with a range of up to 100 miles.

Israel has alleged the shipment was orchestrated by Iran and was intended for Islamic militants in Gaza, a claim denied by Iran and the rockets’ purported recipients.

An Egyptian security official said Sunday the rockets also might have been intended for militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief reporters.

Neither Israel nor Egypt provided evidence for their claims. Questions remain, including how the rockets would have been smuggled into Gaza, largely cut off from the world by a border blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt.

Israel’s government has used the interception to bolster claims that Iran remains dangerous and that the world powers should break off negotiations with Tehran over the country’s nuclear program.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon alleged Sunday that the weapons shipment “uncovered the true intentions of the regime in Tehran, a regime that is sly, dangerous and without restraint, that continues to train, finance and arm terror groups in the Middle East and beyond and whose aim is destabilize the area and the whole world.”

In a further attempt to highlight Iran’s alleged role in arming militants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to hold a news conference Monday in Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat, where the Panama-flagged KLOS C docked under Israeli navy escort Saturday.

Israel’s military said Sunday that 40 rockets of the type M-302, with ranges of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) – or enough to reach Israel’s main cities – were unloaded from the vessel. In addition, the military said it counted 181 mortar shells on the ship, along with some 400,000 rounds of ammunition.

It remains unclear to what extent the intercepted rockets would have raised the threat level against Israel.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas and the smaller group Islamic Jihad already possess thousands of rockets, though apparently with a shorter range. During eight days of fighting in 2012, armed groups from Gaza fired 1,500 rockets into Israel, including several that reached the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

From the north, the Iranian-allied Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah also is believed to have thousands of rockets and missiles that could reach deep into Israel.

Israel intercepted the cargo ship last Wednesday, about 100 miles off the coast of Sudan. Israel has said the raid was a result of months of painstaking intelligence work.

Israeli officials said the rockets were flown from Syria to Iran months ago, then shipped from Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to Umm Qasr, Iraq, before being loaded onto the KLOS C, a civilian ship destined for Sudan.

From there, Israeli officials said they were to be smuggled overland through Egypt to Gaza – a route that has been used in the past.

The Egyptian security official said he believed the vessel’s final destination was close to Ras Mohammed, a nature reserve in the Sinai.

Since last summer, the Egyptian military has destroyed or sealed many of the dozens of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. However, the official said he believes some of the rockets could have made it through the tunnels despite the crackdown.

Iran, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have denied any involvement with the shipment.

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Egypt Tells Hamas it Will Hold Terror Group Accountable for Border Incidents



JNS.org – Egypt’s military told the Hamas that it would hold the Palestinian terror group responsible for any incidents along the Gaza border.

According to Israel Radio, Egyptian security officials have also told Hamas that they will not tolerate smuggling of weapons and goods.

On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians protested in front of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, demanding that the border reopen.

“We demand the Egyptian authorities open the Gaza crossing permanently in both directions and we affirm that we won’t stop our peaceful escalation on Palestinian land until the [Israeli] siege is lifted,” said Hamad El-Rakeb, a leading member of Hamas, Al-Ahram reported.

Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Egypt’s military-backed government has severely cracked down on smuggling through the Gaza border. The military has waged a campaign against terror groups in the Sinai and has accused Hamas of supporting the Sinai jihadists.

Hamas had heavily relied on the smuggling tunnels not only for weapons, but also for goods and materials, which it taxed for revenue. According to Hamas, the closure of the tunnels by Egypt has cost the terror group around $230 million a month.


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Israeli security minister slams Kerry over boycott threat, warns IDF may invade Gaza

Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs for International Relations of Israel Yuval Steinitz

Intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz has lashed out against John Kerry’s warning of a boycott if Israeli-Palestinian peace talks fail, and said the IDF may invade Gaza if Hamas doesn’t end rocket attacks on Israel.

In a heated attack on John Kerry’s speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Steinitz accused the US Secretary of State of holding a gun to Israel’s head in the peace negotiations. Kerry triggered a wave of criticism in Israel when he said there is “talk of boycotts” if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not come to an end.

“The risks are very high for Israel,” Kerry said Saturday. “People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. We all have a strong interest in this conflict resolution.”

Steinitz retorted: “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a gun to its head when we are discussing the matters which are most critical to our national interests.” He added that Kerry was “messianic” in his mission to find a solution to the conflict.

Furthermore, Steinitz claimed that the US diplomat’s remarks were counterintuitive to the peace effort as they “encourage” the Palestinians to harden their positions in bilateral negotiations.

In response to the continued missile fire on Israel from Gaza, Steinitz said the Israeli army could invade the territory to destroy Hamas and bring the region under the full control of the Palestinian Authority.

“If the drip of rockets from Gaza continues, we will have no choice but to go inside [Gaza] to eliminate Hamas and allow the Palestinian Authority to regain control of the Gaza Strip,” Steinitz said.

Steinitz said that although the number of missiles fired had fallen over the past two years, Israel could not tolerate new attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed Kerry’s comments in his weekly address to his Cabinet.

“The attempts to boycott Israel are unethical and unjustified,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting Sunday. “Moreover, they won’t achieve their goal.”

The US Secretary of State is hoping to create a framework for the establishment of a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine by the end of 2014. Martin Indyk, the State Department’s lead envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told Jewish leaders that the new framework will address controversial issues such as the settlements and Palestinian statehood.

Under the framework – which will be made public in a few weeks – Indyk said that about 75 percent to 80 percent would stay in what would become Israeli sovereign territory. In addition, he said the Palestinian Authority would allow settlers who want to remain as citizens of a future Palestinian state to stay in the territory.

Once the document is drawn up, both sides will be expected to sign the agreement to facilitate further peace negotiations.

Israeli security minister slams Kerry over boycott threat, warns IDF may invade Gaza — RT News.

Egyptian intel: Fugitive Muslim Brotherhood’s No. 2 ‘hiding in Gaza’ | World Tribune

من هو محمود عزت المرشد الجديد للإخوان المسلمين؟CAIRO — Egypt has traced a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Security sources said the intelligence community has determined that the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip was harboring the No. 2 leader of the Brotherhood.

The sources identified the fugitive as Mahmoud Ezzat, called the deputy guide of the ousted movement.

“He is currently hiding in Gaza,” Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said.

This marked the first time that Egypt identified a Brotherhood fugitive in the Gaza Strip. Over the last two months, officials asserted that scores of Brotherhood operatives were given haven by Hamas and directing the revolt in Sinai.

In remarks on Oct. 30, Ibrahim said security forces were searching for a range of Brotherhood fugitives. He cited Essam Erian, the deputy chairman of
the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, believed hiding in the Cairo area.

On Oct. 31, Hamas denied that it was harboring Brotherhood fugitives.
The Islamist regime has rejected Egyptian assertions that Hamas and
Palestinian militia allies were operating in Sinai.

“There are no Brotherhood leaders here,” Yusef Rizqa, a senior Hamas
official, said.

But Egypt’s military asserted that the Brotherhood forged strategic ties
with Hamas. On Oct. 31, a state security court charged ousted President
Mohammed Morsi with espionage, saying he relayed security information to
Hamas in 2011. Two of Morsi’s aides, Saad Katany and Khairat Shater, were also
arrested on the same charge.

Egyptian intel: Fugitive Muslim Brotherhood’s No. 2 ‘hiding in Gaza’ | World Tribune.

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Ashkelon | i24news

Four rockets were launched towards southern Israel from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning. One of them was successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. No injuries or damage was reported.

The rockets set off red alert sirens in the coastal city of Ashkelon and in the surrounding area.

The army’s spokesperson said IDF troops began searching the area for the remnants of the rockets.

On Sunday, two mortars fell in the Eshkol region, near the Palestinian enclave. In that attack too, no one was injured.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the launches, which came as Hamas tips into financial and political crisis after being cut off from neighboring Egypt by the new, military-guided interim government in Cairo. Hamas has also been challenged at times by more radical, armed Gaza Islamists.

Ashkelon mapHamas has tried to mend ties with Egypt while appealing to rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose administration holds sway in the occupied West Bank, to abandon U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel.

It has also signaled readiness to fight again, taking responsibility last week for a tunnel which the Israelis discovered running into their territory from Gaza and said was likely intended for kidnapping soldiers or setting off underground explosives.

The attack came hours after Israel published the list of Palestinian prisoners it plans to release as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority in order to facilitate peace talks. Twenty-six Palestinians serving jail terms for crimes committed before the Oslo Accords will be set free on Tuesday, the second batch to be released since the peace talks were resumed in July.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, all of prisoners set to be freed are serving sentences of between 19-28 years. Of the 26, five will be released to Gaza and the rest to the West Bank.

So far this year, a total of 30 rockets have been fired at Israel, far less than the amount of rockets Israel was targeted with in earlier years. The relative calm is credited to a cease fire agreement reached with Gaza’s ruling Hamas organization following a mini-war last November, in which Israel laid waste from the air to much of the groups’ terror infrastructure, while Hamas and other groups managed to fire hundreds of rockets, with some even reaching Tel Aviv.

It was not clear if Monday morning’s attack had anything to do with the announcement of the prisoner release, but Palestinian terrorist groups have been known to respond to Israeli goodwill gestures with rocket attacks as a way to prove their independence from the Ramallah- based Palestinian Authority.

Meanwhile, Israeli security experts are describing defense cooperation with the Palestinians as better than they have ever been.

In an interview to The Media Line, Shlomo Brom, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies said that “This is the best security cooperation we’ve had in years,” and adding that “The Brom said that Abbas has paid a political price for his cooperation with Israel, with Hamas accusing him of “doing Israel’s dirty work.”

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Ashkelon | i24news – Information has a new name.

Read : Head of Ashkelon Council: Gov’t’s decision to stop security strange – Israel News, Ynetnews.