Envoys for international bodies highlight mortar shell that fell outside kindergarten; UN urges restraint by ‘all parties’
Representatives from the European Union and United Nations on Tuesday condemned the firing of more than two dozen mortar shells from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel, both calling it “unacceptable.”
The EU’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, as well as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, both focused on one of the shells striking a tree in the yard of a kindergarten in the Eshkol region, less than an hour before students were due to arrive.
“As kids were preparing for school this morning a barrage of rockets from Gaza fell on southern Israel,” the EU envoy tweeted. “One landed outside a kindergarten. I know the resilience of communities in southern Israel but indiscriminate attacks are totally unacceptable and to be condemned unreservedly.”
Mladenov said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned by the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards communities in Southern Israel, at least one of which hit in the immediate vicinity of a kindergarten and could have killed or injured children.”
“Such attacks are unacceptable and undermine the serious efforts by the international community to improve the situation in Gaza,” the UN envoy added. “All parties must exercise restraint, avoid escalation and prevent incidents that jeopardize the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.”
The kindergarten that was hit by a mortar shell — along with all other schools in the area — opened as usual on Tuesday, despite the attack.
“At this point, there are no special instructions for residents of the Gaza periphery. Please continue to listen to the instructions of the Home Front Command,” the army said in a statement.
The attack, which triggered three rounds of sirens in as many hours in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, was claimed by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, apparently as revenge for the IDF killing three of its members in a cross-border exchange earlier in the week.
It appeared to be the largest attack from the Gaza Strip, in terms of the number of projectiles fired, since the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.
Most of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. One person was lightly injured.
The initial, larger bombardment came at 7 a.m., when approximately 25 mortar shells were fired toward the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, the army said.
Exactly an hour later, incoming sirens were triggered for a second time in the Eshkol region, but not in Sha’ar Hanegev, as at least two mortar shells struck an open field in the area, the army said.
The second attack caused neither injuries nor damage.
Sirens in southern Israel were triggered by a mortar shell for a third time shortly after 9:30 a.m., the army said.
That projectile struck an open field outside a community in the Eshkol region, causing no injury or damage, local officials said.
The military responded to the early morning attack by shelling a number of positions belonging to terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian media reported. The army would not immediately confirm it had conducted retaliatory strikes. Additional reprisal raids were expected, in accordance with Israel’s standard policies regarding attacks from Gaza.
Pictures and videos were quickly shared on social media apparently showing the launches of the mortar shells and the interceptions by the Iron Dome.
In the latest round of violence, unlike previous ones, Gazan terrorists had until Tuesday generally refrained from shooting rockets, instead using small arms fire directed at troops, planting bombs, flying incendiary kites, and sneaking across the border to cause minor damage.
Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly protests that Israel says are orchestrated by Hamas and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.
The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue. Over 10,000 Gazans took part in the demonstrations in the course of Friday and Saturday, the army said.
The demonstrations came to a head on May 14 when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and at least 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes — almost all of them Hamas members, the terror group has acknowledged.
Judah Ari Gross and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
rime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a massive cache of secret documents, obtained in an exceptional Israeli intelligence operation this year, showing that Iran had developed a secret nuclear weapons program and that it lied when it claimed otherwise.
“Iran lied big time,” Netanyahu said at a dramatic press conference on Monday night in Tel Aviv that involved props and a slide show.
Netanyahu held a microphone and walked back and forth on the stage as if conducting a class.
To catch international attention, Netanyahu spoke in English as he described a massive Israeli intelligence coup by which some 100,000 documents – weighing around half a ton – were brought from Tehran to the Jewish state.
“In 2017, Iran moved its nuclear-weapons files to the Shorabad district in southern Tehran. Few Iranians knew where it was, very few, and also a few Israelis,” Netanyahu said. “From the outside the vault looked like a dilapidated warehouse. It contained Iran’s secret atomic archives locked in massive files.”
“A few weeks ago, in a great intelligence achievement, Israel obtained half a ton of the material inside these vaults,” Netanyahu said.
He explained that these included 55,000 pages of documents and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.
The documents focused on the secret Iranian nuclear program that was developed from 1999 to 2003 called Project Amad. When Iran entered the 2015 nuclear deal, it denied that such a program existed.
Netanyahu made the presentation as part of his continued campaign against the deal. He said the documents proved that the deal itself was based on falsehoods and that Iran continued with its nuclear program after the deal was signed.
He spoke less than two weeks before the May 12 deadline that US President Donald Trump had set to decide whether or not to scrap the deal, which the US signed along with five other world powers: Russia, Germany, China, the UK and France.
Meanwhile, the Knesset gave the power to declare war to the security cabinet, instead of the wider cabinet. Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been pushing for the passage of the bill.
IN WASHINGTON, Trump lauded Netanyahu’s presentation.
“I don’t know if everybody has seen it, but I got to see a little bit of it, and that is just not an acceptable situation,” he said, referring to the nuclear deal.
“So we’ll see what happens, Trump said. “I’m not telling you what I’m doing. But a lot of people think they know, and on or before the 12th we’ll make a decision. That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement. It’s a horrible agreement for the US.”
Israel had known for years that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program from 1999 to 2003 called Project Amad, Netanyahu said.
“We can now prove that Project Amad was a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
“Iran is secretly storing Project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons.”
The project’s mission statement was to “design, product and test five warheads, each with 10-kiloton TNT yield for integration on a missile. You do not have to read Farsi to see ‘10 kiloton’ here,” he said.
“That is like five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles,” Netanyahu said.
He showed a spread sheet that spoke of yellowcake production, centrifuge enrichment process, warhead project, simulation project and tests.
“Project Amad had the five key elements of a nuclear weapons program,” said Netanyahu.
This included designs for enriched uranium as well as the development of nuclear cores and photographs of a secret underground facility to produce these cores.
Israel found photographs of a system to build a nuclear implosion system and a map with five key testing sites in eastern Iran, Netanyahu said.
“We have many more such documents,” said Netanyahu.
There were also documents that showed how to integrate nuclear warheads on missiles, including for Shahab-3 missiles.
“Here is the warhead, here is the bomb,” said Netanyahu, pointing to different points on a diagram.
Iran is continually expanding the range of its nuclear-capable missiles and can reach Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Moscow.
“But they are working on far greater ranges,” he said.
“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.
In 2003, Iran was forced to shelve Project Amad, but not its nuclear ambitions. It split its program into an overt program and a covert one that continued the nuclear work under the title of scientific knowhow development, Netanyahu said.
It continued this work in a series of organizations and in 2018 it is carried out by SPND, an organization inside Iran’s Defense Ministry led by the same person who led Project Amad – Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Netanyahu said.
Many of SPND’s key personnel worked with Fakhrizadeh on Project Amad, Netanyahu said.
The files Israel uncovered also dealt with the Fordow uranium enrichment facility, which Netanyahu said was designed from the start to be part of Project Amad.
“You will not be surprised that Iran insisted on keeping Fordow and the nuclear deal enabled it to do it. But Iran was required by the International Atomic Energy Agency to come clean about its nuclear program.
“This was an explicit condition for implementing the nuclear deal. In December 2015 the IAEA published its final assessment of the military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. This was Iran’s chance to fully come clean to the IAEA. They could tell the truth,” Netanyahu said.
But instead, Iran denied the existence of a coordinated program and specifically denied the existence of the Amad plan, Netanyahu said.
He also showed photographic evidence that Iran conducted metallurgical work specifically designed for a nuclear device.
“This is just a fraction of the total material that we have,” Netanyahu said.
One has to ask, he said, “Why would a terrorist regime hide and meticulously catalogue its secret files if not to use it at a later date?”
“Iran lied about never having a nuclear weapons program, it continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowhow for future use,” Netanyahu said.
He played a tape of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif stating that Iran had never had a nuclear weapons program.
“Yes you did,” Netanyahu said. “And the atomic archive proves it.”
“In a few days’ time, Trump will make a decision of what to do with the nuclear deal. I am sure he will do the right thing for the US, for Israel and for the peace of the world,” he said.
FOR HIS PART, the US president acknowledged growing expectations that he will pull out of the accord by May 12. If the European powers fail to come up with “substantial” fixes to some of the agreement’s most controversial provisions, Trump says he will allow for nuclear sanctions to snap back into place, effectively withdrawing the US from the 2015 agreement by default.
Trump said scrapping the non-proliferation agreement would send “the right message” to North Korea in upcoming negotiations over its own nuclear work, given “new information” that had
come to light on Monday.
But if Trump is indeed preparing for a withdrawal next month, not all of his cabinet members are yet on board. Asked on Monday after Netanyahu’s speech whether he is satisfied the JCPOA can handle incidents of Iranian cheating, James Mattis, the US defense secretary, said “yes.”
Mattis met with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, last week in Washington, primarily on Iran policy, the two departments said.
The president also claimed the current deal “frees” Iran to develop nuclear weapons in seven years. The letter of the agreement commits Iran never to construct nuclear weapons – a pledge it originally made in joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in the 1970s. But Netanyahu’s point was that Iran’s commitments were based on lies, raising questions over whether their weapons program had ever ceased and over what sort of agreement with Iran would ever be considered of good faith.
The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehen
sive Plan of Action, put caps on Tehran’s enrichment of uranium that phase out between 10 and 15 years. As those “sunset clauses” are reached, Iran will be allowed to grow the size and efficiency of its program, installing advanced models of uranium-enriching centrifuges in place of decades-old technology, in greater numbers and at more facilities.
That will shrink the “breakout time” Iran would need to develop fissile material for nuclear bombs, should it make the political decision to proceed.
Trump wants a deal that will grant UN inspectors snap access to Iran’s military facilities, where much of their past nuclear weapons work took place; an end to their program
on ballistic missiles, designed to deliver nuclear warheads; a permanent extension of the “sunset clauses”; and commitments from world powers to thwart Iran’s military ambitions across the Middle East.
NETANYAHU RECEIVED praise from coalition and opposition politicians after his presentation of Iran’s nuclear violations.
Deputy Minister Michael Oren (Kulanu) said Netanyahu presented impressive intelligence accomplishments for Israel. He said the international community must demand unlimited oversight over Iran’s nuclear program, including in closed military sites and prevent the development of Iranian ballistic missiles.
Former defense minister Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) said the evidence Netanyahu presented proved that Iran is obsessively seeking nuclear weapons. He said Israel must demand more inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, the maintenance of Israel’s qualitative military edge, and immediately work to fix security flaws in the Israeli home front.
But Joint List MK Dov Henin called Netanyahu’s presentation an election speech.
“What were all of those empty binders, disks and English for?” Henin asked. “He merely warmed old noodles that were cooked years before the nuclear deal was signed.
A leader facing corruption charges was trying to persuade another leader facing corruption charges to inflame a conflagration whose price would be paid by the people who live here.”
Iran’s foreign minister said Israel’s accusations were “old allegations” that had been dealt with by the United Nations nuclear watchdog in the past.
“Pres. Trump is jumping on a rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the IAEA to “nix” the deal. How convenient. Coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations by the boy who cries wolf just days before May 12. But Trump’s impetuousness to celebrate blew the cover,” Zarif tweeted.
Iranian state TV said Netanyahu’s
accusations were propaganda.
“His remarks were not new… full of baseless accusations… and propaganda against Iran’s nuclear work,” state TV said.
Netanyahu spoke to Trump by telephone on Sunday and met in Tel Aviv with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Prior to the presentation, the security cabinet met.
On Monday, he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the cache of docume
nts and promised to send professional teams to their countries to explain the material. Netanyahu also held a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and he plans to update the British and Chinese leaders as soon as possible.
Over on Capitol Hill, response to the presentation was muted. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican from Tennessee who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who drafted the 2015 law that provides Congress with review powers over the nuclear deal, said Netanyahu revealed “nothing new” that was not known prior to the conclusion of the agreement.
The article was published on The JPost
One year after the State of Israel introduced a law that required supermarkets to charge customers for the use of plastic bags use of the bags has dropped by 80 per cent, and bag waste found in the sea has halved, according to government sources. Such a rewarding news for UN Environment’s EU-funded SwitchMed project and its Israeli partners who have contributed to this success.
Big supermarkets must charge their customers at least 0.10 Israeli new shekels (about $US 0.03) for each bag, and must show the cost of the bags on the customer’s bill. Additionally, supermarkets must report the number of bags distributed to the Government, and proceeds of the sale go to the government to fund projects to cut air pollution throughout the country.
The law comes in part as a result of UN Environment’s SwitchMed’s work with the country to set up a National Action Plan on sustainable consumption and production.
A two-day policy workshop run by UN Environment’s EU-funded SwitchMed project entitled “Policy Tools for Circular Economy” held in Jerusalem in 2014 highlighted facilitated the formulation of the legislation by highlighting the lessons learnt from similar laws internationally.
Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection, MK Zeev Elkin, highlighted how successful the law has been by international standards. “We see 80 per cent reduction in plastic bags consumption in less than a year,” he said. “This is a success even in worldwide standards. For comparison, an 80 per cent reduction rate in the use of disposable bags at large retailers is the European Union’s target for 2020, for which five years of deployment have been given. I am proud of the Israeli public that understands the importance of reducing plastic bags waste and changed its behaviour so rapidly”.
The SwitchMed sustainable consumption and production programme aims to promote a switch by the Mediterranean economies towards sustainable consumption and production patterns and green economy, including low-emission development, through demonstration and dissemination of methods that improve resource and energy efficiency. It also seeks to minimise the environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of products and services and, where possible, to promote renewable energy.
The article was published at the EU Neighborhood Centre website
Neda Amin, 32, who wrote regularly from Turkey for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, faced deportation, feared she would be sent back to Iran
Neda Amin, a Turkey-based, Iranian-born blogger for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, arrived safely in Israel on Thursday morning, and was met at Ben-Gurion Airport by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz.
Amin was being threatened with imminent deportation by Turkey. She feared that if no other country took her in, she would be sent back to Iran, where she feared for her fate.
After The Times of Israel alerted the Israeli authorities to her plight, government officials immediately responded and paved the way for her safe arrival in Israel.
“Thank you,” said Amin, over and over when she arrived, embracing Horovitz. “You saved me.”
Horovitz thanked all of the Israeli officials who had worked to ensure her well-being. “I’m proud to live in a country that responded so instinctively to help somebody who was in danger.”
“As soon as we brought Neda’s case to the attention of the Israeli authorities, everybody was helpful and professional,” he said.
Amin has blogged regularly for The Times of Israel’s Persian site, and has done some freelance work. “She feared for her life, and her work for the Times of Israel was apparently a factor, so I felt we had an obligation to ensure her well-being, and I am very grateful to all the Israeli officials to whom I turned for assistance for providing it, immediately,” said Horovitz. The officials at the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, he stressed, were particularly helpful.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who issued the visa for her entry into the country, tweeted Thursday: “Welcome to Israel!”
Amin had appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her, noting that the UN previously designated her a refugee in 2015, and had also appealed to human rights organizations and others to intervene on her behalf.
The UN Watch NGO circulated a petition on Amin’s behalf, warning that she was “in grave danger should she be deported back to Iran.”
Amin, 32, left Iran for Turkey in 2014.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
An Israeli ambassador to the UN will head a UN committee for the first time since joining the organization in 1949, Danon was elected after a diplomatic campaign including opposition by Muslim member-states.
After months of behind-the-scenes diplomatic struggles, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon was elected to head the UN Legal Committee (officially named the Sixth Committee) on Monday. The committee deals with sensitive topics including fighting global terrorism.
This is a historic event, as it marks the first time an Israeli representative will head a permanent UN committee since its induction into the organization in 1949
109 nations voted for Danon (the process only included votes cast for a candidate for the position, and did not include ‘nay’ votes). Palestinian representative Dr. Riyad H. Mansour worked to convince voting representatives to not support Danon until the last second. Iran’s delegation was also active in trying to stop the appointment, sending representatives a letter on the matter.
The Israeli victory came after a long, complex diplomatic struggle by Israeli representatives worldwide .Their main opponents were the Arab nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“I am proud to be the first Israeli elected to this position,” said Ambassador Danon, “Israel is a world leader in international law and in fighting terrorism. We are pleased to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with the countries of the world.”
“We will not allow dictatorships and anti-Israel countries to harm our standing in the international community. Those who tried to block our appointment would be well advised to take note of the jurisdiction of this committee, as they have much to learn about international law,” he continued, “We are a full member of the UN and any attempt to deny us of our legal rights in this organization will be met with uncompromising rejection.”
Ambassador Danon’s candidacy received widespread backing from many member-states, led by the United States and the Europeans.
Prior to today’s appointment, Ambassador Danon was first elected as the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group’s candidate for the position. Then, following the objection by the Arab Group to approve the nomination, the General Assembly proceeded to elect Ambassador Danon by a secret ballot. All 193 UN member-states were eligible to take part in today’s election. After his election, Ambassador Danon was congratulated by colleagues from around the world.
The article was published on Ynet on the 13th June 2016
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon on Monday called on the global body to denounce terrorism instead of legitimizing Palestinian terrorism.
The call came as the UN commemorated “Palestinian Solidarity Day” and passed a series of anti-Israel resolutions.
“Over the years, this assembly has passed countless one-sided resolutions blaming Israel for any and all problems confronting the Palestinians,” Danon said in a speech to the General Assembly.
“It is unfortunate that the seventieth session has joined the pitiful UN tradition of passing more than twenty empty anti-Israel resolutions, which deepen the conflict, distance us from real dialogue, and diminish the prospects of peace,” he continued.
Danon noted that in 1947, the UN adopted a resolution to partition the British Mandate into a Jewish state, and an Arab state but the Palestinians refused to accept it, and instead have launched “violent waves of terror every time they had the opportunity for statehood”.
“If the Palestinian leaders really want peace, why do they refuse to sit in the same room with the Israeli Prime Minister? To sit down and to negotiate?” said Danon.
“If the Palestinian leaders truly want a home for the Palestinian people, why do they reject the very idea of a home for the Jewish people?
“If the Palestinian leaders are concerned for the protection of their own people, why do they encourage and incite them to terror and violence?” said Danon, who stressed, “No amount of biased resolutions and empty symbols will bring the change that the people of the region so desperately need.”
“You can raise a Palestinian flag here in the UN, but as long as the Palestinians fail to raise a generation committed to peace and reconciliation, there will be no end to violence,” he stated.
Danon held up a picture of the recent victims of terrorism in Israel and said, “This is a shameful day for the UN.”
“Instead of issuing a clear and categorical statement denouncing all acts of terror, this institution has granted legitimacy to Palestinian terror,” he continued.
The heinous murder of a twenty innocent Israelis, just because they are Israelis, is no different than the cruel massacre of innocents in France. Terror is terror is terror, and it must be fought against, not justified,” stressed Danon.
If the UN wants to play a constructive role, it must get a grip on reality, and hold the Palestinians accountable. Demand that the Palestinians leaders cease their incitement to violence,” he said.
“Insist that President Abbas finally, finally respond to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repeated calls to negotiate. And make it clear that peace will only come once the Palestinians accept that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.”
this article was post on 24 November 2015 on Arutz Sheva website