JERUZALEM, May 13 -- President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas expects to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Meeting on Cooperation and Confidence Measures in Asia in Dushanbe on June 15, Palestine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki said.
"I expect that it will happen the next month in Tajikistan, where a summit on cooperation and confidence measures in Asia will be held," he said. "As far as we understand, President Putin will participate in it, and our president will also be there. We are working to organize their meeting during the summit."
The Kremlin has not officially announced yet that Putin is planning to meet with Abbas in Dushanbe. Riyad al-Maliki reiterated that his last meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was held two weeks ago on the sidelines of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum. "We discussed the situation in Palestine, the Israeli position on the so-called occupied territories, and the expected deal of the century (the US’ proposal on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement)," the minister stated. It was especially important to him "that Lavrov affirmed that the Russian side will not recognize ‘the deal of the century’ in case it violates the earlier reached multilateral agreements," he said. "The Russian representatives explained that their position coincides with the UN’s stance, with the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly and they expect the other states to respect them," the minister noted.
TEL AVIV, March 25 -- Seven Israeli citizens were hospitalized with injuries of varying severity on Monday after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip that hit a residential building in the moshav of Mishmeret in Central Israel, the national medical service, Magen David Adom, reported.
"Seven people were evacuated to a hospital with injuries: a 60-year-old woman in moderate condition with shrapnel wounds and burns, a 30-year-old woman in moderate condition with shrapnel wounds to her leg, as well as five more wounded including children aged 12, 3 and 6 months," the service’s communique reads. Earlier, the Israeli military reported that they had detected a missile launch in the Gaza Strip aimed at Central Israel. "After the reports of air raid sirens having been triggered on the Sharon plain (north of Tel Aviv) we detected a missile that had been fired from the Gaza Strip," the army press service said. The military previously reported that sirens had been triggered on the Sharon plain, in the Hefer Valley Regional Council. The police press service said that the missile had hit a residential building in the Mishmeret moshav, sparking a fire.
For first time since 2014 - when Israel launched a 50-day long operation dubbed Protective Edge - on March 14, air raid sirens went off in the greater Tel Aviv region. The military then said that two missile were launched towards Tel Aviv, with no casualties reported. The Iron Dome missile defense system didn't intercept the rockets, while Israel in retaliation hit a few dozen military targets in the Gaza Strip, the army press service also added.
ANKARA, December 25 -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent more troops to Syria’s border on Monday ahead of an imminent U.S. withdrawal, as the White House announced he had invited Donald Trump to Ankara.
Unlike several other allies of the United States, Turkey has praised President Trump’s decision to withdraw 2,000 of his ground forces from Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target Kurdish fighters. On Monday Ankara sent more troops to its Syrian border and said an offensive targeting the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia and IS group will be launched in the coming months.
Turkey views the YPG as a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. But the militia has also been a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, working with American forces on the ground there. “Just as we did not leave our Syrian Arabs to Daesh (ISIS), we will not leave Syrian Kurds to the cruelty of the PKK,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara. A Turkish military convoy arrived overnight on Monday at the border with local media reporting that some vehicles had entered Syria.
In a telephone conversation Sunday between Trump and Erdogan, which both sides described as “productive,” they agreed to avoid a power vacuum in Syria after the U.S. withdrawal. “President Erdogan invited President Trump to visit Turkey in 2019. While nothing definite is being planned, the president is open to a potential meeting in the future,” a White House spokesperson later said on Monday evening. Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Monday that a U.S. military delegation would arrive this week to “discuss how to coordinate (the withdrawal) with their counterparts.”
A Turkish foreign ministry delegation would go to Washington for talks early January, he added. Trump stunned the U.S. political establishment and allies last week with his decision, days after Erdogan had warned that Ankara would soon launch an offensive in northern Syria. Critics of Trump’s decision fear that thousands of Islamic State (ISIS) group extremist members are still thought to be in Syria, despite Trump’s claim of having defeated ISIS. The U.S. leader tweeted that Erdogan had told him Ankara would “eradicate” the last IS elements. And Kalin vowed that there was “no question of a step backwards, vulnerability or a slowdown in the fight against Daesh (ISIS).”
He added: “Turkey will show the same determination against Daesh. To beat Daesh, we don’t need the PKK or the YPG. We can bring peace to this region.” The Turkish military convoy with howitzers, artillery batteries and several units of the armed forces, was deployed to the border district of Elbeyli in Kilis province, state news agency Anadolu reported on Monday.
JERUZALEM, December 23 -- With funding and direction from Iran, Hamas has raised its flag in the Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah.
Where it hopes to kill two birds with one stone: Attack Israel and topple PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Ramallah reverts to a terrorist agenda. Ramallah has suddenly reverted to a terrorist agenda. Hamas has raised its flag in the capital of the Palestinian Authority. There, in that city of spacious homes, which in recent years has attracted banks and business centers and international organizations and embassies, and where accelerated development has resulted in hundreds of high-rise buildings springing up, Hamas is sticking it to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Ramallah and the villages around it, which function as the political and economic center of the PA, strongly identified with the Palestinian elite and wanted cooperation with Israel. This week, they became the site of a hunt for the terrorists who carried out the shooting attacks in Ofra and Givat Asaf. The raids, the encirclement, the capture of homes and the shots fired at protesters – all in the beating heart of the PA, which this week resumed full security coordination with Israel – are the last thing the ailing Abbas needs.
In the middle of all this, between the Jewish settlements Halamish, Nachliel and Atarot, lies the village of Kaubar, a hamlet that raises murderers. Kaubar illustrates how shaky Abbas’ stature has become in the region where his own capital lies. In October 2011, the village hosted a great celebration in honor of four local residents being released from prison in Israel as part of the Hamas-engineered prisoner exchange deal for captive soldier Gilad Schalit. The prisoners included cousins Nael and Fahri Barghouti, who had served over 30 years in prison. In 1978, they stabbed bus driver Moti Yakuel to death as he was driving Palestinian workers home to Kaubar and other local villages. The cousins were welcomed by Omar Barghouti, Nael’s brother, who was also convicted for the murder but had been released as part of the 1985 Jibril Agreement, in which Israel freed over 1,150 security prisoners for three Israelis captured in the First Lebanon War. Nael has since been imprisoned again in Israel for supposedly violating his parole. His wife, Aman, also has a rap sheet. She served time in prison for planning a terrorist attack on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, although it was never carried out. Two of Fahri’s sons also served time in Israeli prisons. Eight years ago, the road that leads to Kaubar was stenciled with stars of David, so that cars could drive over them on their way into the village.
JERUZALEM, November 12 -- At least three Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, according to health officials, in the latest escalation less than 24 hours after a deadly covert Israeli operation in the besieged enclave.
The air raids on Monday followed a barrage of rocket fire from the Strip into Israel earlier in the day.
Israel said its Iron Dome system intercepted many of the more than 100 missiles fired from the Palestinians. One, however, hit a bus and another struck a building in southern Israel.
Along with the air raids, Israeli artillery units also shelled positions across the enclave.
The rising tensions came as thousands of people took part in rallies in the Hamas-administered enclave following the killing of seven Palestinians - including Nour Baraka, a prominent commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas - in the secret Israeli military raid on Sunday evening.
One Israeli lieutenant colonel was also killed and another one was seriously injured in the attack.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya led a funeral for Palestinians killed on Sunday as mourners called for revenge. Later, Palestinian factions said in a joint statement that they had begun firing rockets into Israel in response to the Israeli military incursion.
"Over the past two hours, the Israelis have targeted many resistance training camp and many buildings," Mukhaimar Abusada, professor at Gaza's al-Azhar University, told Al Jazeera on Monday evening. "It seems to me that we are going to witness a very hard night as a result of the ongoing Israeli retaliation."
TEL AVIV, September 9 --The Israeli military test-fired its Arrow (Hetz) 2 interceptor missile jointly with their US colleagues, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.
"The interceptor completed all planned flight stages," the ministry said in a statement. “The test should study the possibilities of the improved system to counter perspective threats,” the statement reads.
The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier in the day that Russian missile warning systems had detected the launch of a ballistic object in the Mediterranean region at 08:31GMT. Israeli military experts said that the Russian military had detected either the missile itself or the target drone that it was supposed to hit.
According to The Times of Israel, Tel Aviv is in the process of developing a five-tiered system of air defense aimed at protection against projectiles ranging from mortars to ballistic weapons. Arrow (Hetz) 2, rolled out in March 2000, is an Israeli interceptor developed to counter ballistic missiles at atmospheric altitudes. Arrow 2 has an overall length of 7 meters (23 ft), a body diameter of 0.8 meters, and a launch weight of around 1,300 kg (2,900 lb). It can achieve the speed of 3 kilometers per second.
One Arrow 2 interceptor missile is worth between $1.5 million to $3 million. It is part of Israel’s Homa missile defense system created together with US companies.
Source: De Peet Journal
ROTTERDAM, September 8 -- Iron Dome is arguably one of the most talked about defence systems in the world.
Israeli officials say the defence "shield" is able to detect an incoming rocket, determine its path and likely point of impact, and intercept it if it poses a threat to Israeli towns or cities. Some rockets land in empty fields, while others are shot down by a battery of Tamim interceptor missiles.
Israel claims that of the purported 3,500 rockets fired from Gaza during its latest military operation, 90 percent of those that would have hit population centres were neutralised by the Iron Dome system. But experts outside of the country have questioned the efficiency of the system. "'In order for Iron Dome to have any chance of detonating the rocket warheads, it must engage from the front, in what is called an Inverse Trajectory," wrote Richard Lloyd, a warhead designer, in a recently declassified 28-page technical report.
In other words, the Iron Dome missiles must approach rockets head-on, or the probability of intercepting them drops to virtually zero. This is due to the nature of the interceptors' warhead, which is not in the nose of the missile but a third of the length down. When very close to its target, the interceptor will detonate, sending a shower of steel rods out to the side of the missile to destroy the rocket. The only way these rods can successfully hit a rocket warhead is when the interceptor comes up to meet the rocket and passes just by it. Attempting to hit the rocket side-on will have virtually no chance of success.
Theodore Postol, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and missile defence expert, headed a group that assessed the effectiveness of the Patriot missile defence system installed in Israel at the end of the first Gulf War. While figures at the time reported a resounding success - Postol told Al Jazeera that although officials claimed that 94 percent of Scud and al-Hussein missiles were shot down - he estimates the real figure was "probably zero".
Postol, a vocal critic of the Iron Dome, has based a portion of his research on open source pictures and video of the Iron Dome's Tamim interceptor contrails, the visible smoke path left by a missile. He told Al Jazeera that these showed "that 80-90 percent of the time, the Iron Dome [missiles] are not even close to the correct engagement geometry", and added that the Iron Dome system is not engaging rockets head-on and therefore not working as it should.
Postol said the video evidence of the contrails is damning; not because it might show a successful rocket detonation, but because it shows the sudden changes in course made when the interceptor realises it is not on a direct path to the incoming rocket. The contrails show the Tamir interceptor attempting to engage the rocket side on, with a success rate of virtually zero. A report written by Yiftah Shapir, of Israel's Institute of National Security Studies, contradicted Postol and Lloyd's findings, however. Shapir said the majority of the video evidence Postol examined was not filmed in a scientific manner, and said that several of the clips could be of the same event, filmed from different angles.
"There is no way that a smartphone camera could distinguish between a double and a single explosion," Shapir wrote.
But Lloyd argued that even when the rockets are being intercepted, they aren't necessarily being neutralised. The warheads contained in Palestinian rockets are "very difficult to detonate because they are made with thick steel cases... backed with insensitive TNT explosive", he found.
GAZA, September 3 -- Hamas's support has surged after its war with Israel and would win Palestinian elections if they were held today, an opinion poll suggests.
The Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research's poll, released on Tuesday, suggested Hamas leader Ismail Haniya would win almost twice as many votes as Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, in a two-way presidential election. More than half of respondents said armed resistance - a pillar of Hamas's ideology - would help gain a Palestinian state, as opposed to 20 percent who said they supported non-violent means.
And 79 percent of respondents said they believed that Hamas won the Gaza war, three percent backed Israel and 17 percent said both sides were losers. There have been no national elections since Hamas won polls in 2007 and took control of Gaza. Hamas has fought three wars against Israel while Fatah has pursued on-off talks, mediated by the United States, which have so far failed to secure an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Meanwhile, a rare rally by thousands of Hamas supporters in Ramallah on Saturday passed without incident under the watchful eyes of plain-clothes Fatah forces, although Hamas complained that several of its backers were arrested afterwards. The Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research describes itself as a Ramallah-based independent non-profit institution and think tank.
The survey was conducted with more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
In comments delivered in a prime-time address on national television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that "Hamas was hit hard," adding that Israel "didn't agree to accept any of Hamas' demands" under the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal.
"The ceasefire was achieved without any of the terms being given," Netanyahu said, before reeling off key demands Hamas had made but were not accepted, including reopening the seaport and airport and removing restrictions on the movement of the people of Gaza.
He said tunnels and the infrastructure Hamas had built over the years had been destroyed and that ground forces were deployed for that reason, adding that Israeli forces had been withdrawn to prevent kidnapping by Hamas fighters.
Netanyahu's comments came amid criticism over his handling of the seven-week military operation that has killed more than 2,200 people. Israel lost 64 soldiers and six civilians. Both hard-liners in his governing coalition, as well as residents of rocket-scarred southern Israel, have said the war was a failure because it did not halt Hamas' rocket attacks or remove the group from power. The ambiguous ceasefire delivered an immediate halt in the fighting and has promised an easing of Israel's blockade of Gaza to allow humanitarian aid and construction goods to enter for the rebuilding of the territory.
All goods are to go in under international supervision.