After IDF-Gaza exchange of fire, Liberman vows Israel will not let Hamas rearm
One day after the IDF and Gaza terrorists exchanged fire, including the harshest IDF response since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel could not be expected to sit quietly while Hamas rearmed itself for further attacks on the country.
Liberman made his remarks Tuesday at the IDF’s Havat Hashomer Base in the Galilee while on tour with IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan.
Liberman expressed that Israeli aid for the rehabilitation of Gaza would depend on the demilitarization of the Strip.
“What needs to be understood is that my view is rehabilitation [in exchange] for disarmament…They cannot expect the State of Israel to let them rearm, to steal money from the citizens of Gaza.”
The defense minister asked rhetorically where all of the Gazans’ taxes go if they are not being used to rehabilitate civilian homes damaged in the 2014 war.
He then responded to his own question, explaining that Hamas uses taxes and all external aid slated for rehabilitation to rebuild its tunnels and its attack forces’ capabilities.
Liberman lamented that all of the assistance provided to Gaza from Israel, EU and UN merely helps Hamas avoid investing in its own citizens.
“They [Hamas] don’t care about their residents, they care about their tunnels and rockets,” Liberman added.
While the IDF refused to publicly comment on what targets it hit on Sunday afternoon and late Sunday night, it was clear that some of the targets were more important to Hamas operationally than some targets which the IDF may have hit in the past to retaliate for rocket attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
Turkey, Israel in war of words despite normalization
Jerusalem and Ankara engaged in a nasty public exchange on Monday over Israel’s air strikes the night before in Gaza, just two days after the Turkish parliament ratified a rapprochement accord with Israel.
Following the air strikes, which came in response to a rocket attack from Gaza on Sderot, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a harshly worded statement that condemned the “disproportionate attacks,” saying they are “unacceptable” regardless of the reason.
“Normalizing ties with Israel does not mean that we will keep silent in the face of attacks against the Palestinian people,” the statement read.
It said that Israel’s “aggressive” position is “bound to defeat the peace process.”
The Foreign Ministry fired back a few hours later with a statement of its own, saying “The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations.”
Israel, the statement continued, “will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law and our conscience. Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others.”
Despite the sharp tone, one Israeli official said the situation in Gaza won’t impact on the reconciliation, “because in the current situation in the region, Turkey needs it.”
The two countries still need to exchange ambassadors.
Ankara’s condemnation came a day after both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin issued statements condemning the terrorist attack in Gaziantep that killed 54 people, and called on the international community to join efforts to fight terrorism.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement came hours after police detained five people who entered the perimeter courtyard in Ankara where Israel’s consulate is located, to protest the Gaza air strikes.
Meanwhile, a senior IDF official said on Monday that the military ”is not interested in an escalation,” though his comment followed a night of some 50 air strikes targeting terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip in response to Sunday’s Gaza rocket attack on Sderot.
Nonetheless, the official said that the IDF is “ready for anything” and “prepared” for a wider operation if necessary.
He emphasized that some 1,000 trucks containing supplies and aid would enter Gaza throughout the day, as evidence of the IDF’s commitment to avoid an escalation.
However, the wider series of air strikes on Sunday night against Hamas targets after the IDF had already responded more typically with a more limited response of two counterstrikes earlier on Sunday left some question marks.
If the IDF did not want an escalation, what was the meaning of the second counterstrike, which was the largest since the 2014 Gaza war? Late Monday night, Channel 2 reported that a senior defense establishment source had said that the broader counterstrike was in fact a change in policy, and signaled to Gaza that any future rocket firings would be met with a similar massive response of deterrence.
Yet both the IDF and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s spokesman strongly denied issuing such a statement, and refused to confirm such a change in policy beyond the current incident and no other outlets reported anything similar.
The IDF had issued a middle-ofthe- night statement that it would hold Hamas responsible for all rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, even if it was not directly involved and was the work of splinter groups.
The IDF would not publicly identify its targets other than that they were connected to Hamas, with reports that other terrorist groups were also hit. Palestinian reports also indicated that the earlier Israeli air strike hit a Hamas lookout point, and that an Israeli tank shell damaged a Beit Hanoun water tower.
There were contrary reports about whether Gazans were injured in the IDF’s counterstrikes and how many were injured.
Despite targeting Hamas, the IDF also refused to identify who was responsible for firing the rocket, but Palestinian reports seemed to settle on Aknaf Beit al-Maqdas, an Isis-sympathizing, Salafist group based in Gaza. The group claimed responsibility for the rocket, saying, “What is known as the settlement of Sderot, which sits in usurped Muslim lands, was targeted by two rockets at 2:20 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The firing of the rocket came as a part of the continued jihad against the Jewish enemies of God, and as a response to the continued desecration of al-Aksa Mosque by the settlers.”
Earlier, many outlets had reported that the Abu Alu Mustafa Brigades, the military arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was responsible, but the group later denied responsibility.
Hamas responded to the strikes on Monday morning saying that “Israel is responsible for this escalation in the Gaza Strip.”
Further, it added that it was dedicated to liberating Palestine and not to responding to every operation, and was not currently interested in escalation.
However, it also said that if Israel pushed it, it would respond in kind.
As of Monday night Hamas had not yet responded militarily, and it appeared that it would not in the immediate future.
In Sderot, police confirmed that there were no reports of injuries or damage from Sunday’s rocket. “Terrorism will not conquer us and will not break the fortitude of our citizens,” said Mayor Alon Davidi.
“These have been the quietest two years that this entire area has known, and it cannot be that an isolated incident will violate the quiet. We will continue forward, and tonight we will all enjoy the Heart of Sderot festival, the summer festival of Sderot and the nearby areas.”
After days of heavy activity and pronouncements, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made no public comment about the day’s events.
The town of Sderot boasts a population of 19,000 residents. According to the IDF, 14 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza so far in 2016.
The last rocket strike from Gaza was also on Sderot at the beginning of July, and the IDF launched air strikes against Hamas in that case as well.
In late May, Ajnad Bait al-Maqdis, a salafi terrorist organization operating in the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for a rocket strike on southern Israel.
In response to rocket fire launched at Israel on May 25, the Israel Air Force attacked two Hamas terrorist infrastructure targets in the Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post)
Top Israeli diplomat visits secret Muslim African state without formal ties
Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold, who met Sunday in Guinea with President Alpha Conde, stopped on his way back from West Africa to Israel in another Muslim country in the region with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
In July, shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to East Africa, Israel re-established ties with Guinea. A few days later, Gold went to Chad, another African Muslim state without diplomatic relations with Israel, and met President Idriss Deby Itno.
The other predominantly Muslim states with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations in Sub-Saharan Africa are: Mali, Chad, Niger, Sudan, Mauritania, Somalia, Djibouti and Comoros.
Gold meet in the Guinean capital of Conakry with Conde and 10 of his ministers.
A number of Muslim countries in West Africa, including Guinea and Chad, are very concerned about Islamic terrorism, and have expressed an interest in learning from Israeli expertise on this matter.
Gold’s trip to West Africa comes just over a week after Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé visited Israel, and agreed on an Israeli-African summit on “security and development” to take part in Lomé in the spring.
Netanyahu has made improving relations with Africa one of Israel’s major foreign policy goals, and is very keen on holding a summit in West Africa, similar to the one he held last month in East Africa with leaders from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan and Zambia. (Jerusalem Post)
Paintings by IDF soldier whose body is held by Hamas to be displayed at UN
Artwork by an Israeli soldier killed in the Operation Protective Edge, waged in the Gaza Strip in 2014, will be featured as a special exhibit at the U.N. held as part of the General Assembly meeting scheduled to take place in September.
Givati Brigade Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in a clash with Hamas operatives in Rafah. His remains, and those of Golani Brigade Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul were abducted and are being held by Hamas.
The exhibition, titled “The Final Peace,” will be showcased in the main lobby, where world leaders will see it upon their arrival at the General Assembly.
Goldin’s parents, Simcha and Leah, and his twin brother Tzur, will arrive at the U.N. headquarters in New York for the exhibit’s premier, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon will attends as well.
The idea for the exhibit followed a visit by an art curator, who visited the Goldin family while they were sitting shiva, the traditional weeklong mourning period, and was impressed by the fallen soldier’s art.
Goldin was killed during a U.N.-backed humanitarian cease-fire, his family said it holds the U.N. as one of the main bodies responsible to ensure his remains are returned to Israel.
“World leaders must be able to see that beyond being an Israeli soldier captured during a U.N. cease-fire, Hadar was also a talented human being, skilled and full of life, with his whole life ahead of him. The U.N. and the international community must accept responsibility and act to have Hadar’s body returned for burial in Israel,” Goldin’s mother Leah said, explaining the importance the family lends to the exhibit.
“Hadar was killed and his body abducted by heinous terrorists during a U.N.-backed cease-fire,” Danon said. “It is very important that U.N. officials and world leaders see that in addition to being a brave fighter killed protecting his country, Hadar was also a son, a brother, and a talented artist.”
Danon will also try to orchestrate meetings between the Goldin family and U.N. officials with the aim of promoting efforts to return Goldin and Shaul’s remains to Israel. (Israel Hayom)
Highs and lows of Israel’s Rio experience
After failing to win a single medal at London 2012, ending a run of five Olympics with a podium finish, the Israel delegation entered the Rio Games with one main goal.
Yarden Gerbi and Ori Sasson ensured the blue-and-white achieved it, winning two bronze medals in the judo events. It was the third time the blue-and-white delegation had won two medals in a Games, the first since Athens 2004.
Nevertheless, there was also some disappointment for the delegation, with Olympic Committee of Israel Secretary General Gili Lustig admitting he was frustrated Israel’s athletes, apart from Gerbi and Sasson, were only able to reach five finals in Rio, half the amount the OCI was aiming for.
“First and foremost we wanted to return with a medal, especially after what happened in London,” said Lustig.
“We also had a female athlete on the podium for the first time since 1992 and a superb performance by Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko, who ended the triple jump final in fifth place, the best-ever finish for an Israeli woman in athletics, bettering Esther Roth-Shachamarov’s achievement from Montreal 1976. The fact we had a record of 47 athletes in 17 different sports is also an achievement in itself. After the disappointment from four years ago, the people of Israel were expecting a medal and I think these Olympics can be branded as a success.”
Apart from Knyazyeva-Minenko, the four other Israelis to reach a final or its equivalent of a top eight finish in the judo events, were judokas Sagi Muki and Linda Bolder, windsurfer Ma’ayan Davidovich, who came tantalizingly close to winning a medal, and the rhythmic gymnastics national team.
Lustig detailed which Israeli athletes he felt should have done better in Rio.
“The one goal we didn’t meet was finals,” he said. “We expected to reach more finals and had some good candidates in Golan Pollack, Gili Cohen, Alex Shatilov, Sergey Richter, Yakov Toumarkin, Shahar Zubari and Ilana Kratysh. We expected more from them, but clearly I would have been happy to settle for our results in Rio prior to the Olympics.”
The Israel delegation also found itself caught up in some controversy in Rio, with the Lebanese delegation refusing to share a bus with the Israelis at the opening ceremony and Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby rejecting Ori Sasson’s outstretched hand following their first round bout.
“The incident at the opening ceremony was blown out of proportion and was over within five minutes,” said Lustig. “We are guided by certain values and if others want to act in a different manner that is their problem. We are proud to be Israelis.”
The Rio Olympics also saw the memory of the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre commemorated for the first time in an official ceremony organized by the International Olympic Committee.
The ceremony was held in the Place of Mourning, a memorial set up in the Olympic Village in Rio, two days prior to the opening ceremony.
The Place of Mourning was built to honor the memory of 15 people killed during Olympic Games.
Besides the 11 Israelis, it also commemorates the German policeman who was killed in the failed rescue attempt in Munich, two victims of the bomb attack at the 1996 Atlanta Games and Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in an accident at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
A long campaign led by Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of two of the murdered Israeli athletes, demanded that the IOC commemorate the Israelis in an official ceremony, but their pleas had fallen on deaf ears until the appointment of German Thomas Bach as IOC President in September 2013. (Jerusalem Post)
Breakthrough research at Tel Aviv University unravels the metastatic mechanism of melanoma
In a landmark discovery, researchers at Tel Aviv University have unraveled the metastatic mechanism of melanoma, the most aggressive of all skin cancers. The scientists discovered that before spreading to other organs, the tumor sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of microRNA. These induce morphological changes in the dermis – in preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells. The researchers also found chemical substances that can stop the process, and are therefore promising drug candidates.
The paper was published yesterday (Monday, 22 August 2016) as the leading cover-page article of the prominent scientific journal Nature Cell Biology .
Melanoma, the most aggressive and lethal type of skin cancer, ca uses the death of one person every 52 minutes (according to data from the Skin Cancer Foundation), and the number of diagnosed cases has been on the rise for the past three decades. Despite a range of therapies developed over the years, there is still no full remedy for this life-threatening disease. A recent study at Tel Aviv University proposes new and effective methods for diagnosing and preventing this most deadly of skin cancers.
“The threat of melanoma is not in the initial tumor that appears on the skin, but rather in its metastasis – cancer cells sent off to colonize in vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver and bones,” says research leader Dr. Carmit Levy of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine. “We discovered how the cancer spreads to distant organs, and found ways to stop the process before the metastatic stage.”
Morphological changes in the dermis
The researchers began by examining pathology samples taken from melanoma patients, and the findings were striking indeed. “We looked at samples of early melanoma, before the invasive stage,” says Dr. Levy. “To our surprise we found changes that had never before been reported, in the morphology of the dermis – the inner layer of the skin. Our next task was to find out what these changes were, and how they related to melanoma.” In the ensuing long and complex study the group was able to discover – and also block – a central mechanism in the metastasis of melanoma.
According to Dr. Levy, scientists have known for years that melanoma forms in the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. At this early stage the cancer is unable to send off colonizing cancer cells, because it has no access to blood vessels – the highways that carry the cells to other parts of the body. With no blood vessels present in the epidermis, the tumor first needs to contact the abund ant blood vessels running through the dermis. But how is the connection made?
“We found that even before the cancer itself invades the dermis, it sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of microRNA. These induce the morphological changes in the dermis, in preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells. It now became clear to us that by blocking the vesicles, we may be able to stop the disease altogether.”
Transforming melanoma into a nonthreatening illness
Having discovered the mechanism, the researchers proceeded to look for substances that could intervene and block the process in its earliest stages. They found two such chemicals: one, SB202190, inhibits the delivery of the vesicles from the melanoma tumor to the dermis; and the other, U0126, prevents the morphological changes in the dermis even after the arrival of the vesicles. Both substances were tested successfully in the lab, and may serve as promising candid ates for future drugs. In addition, the changes in the dermis, as well as the vesicles themselves, can be used as powerful indicators for early diagnosis of melanoma.
“Our study is an important step on the road to a full remedy for the deadliest skin cancer,” says Dr. Levy. “We hope that our findings will help turn melanoma into a nonthreatening, easily curable disease.”
The group at Tel Aviv University worked in close collaboration with Prof. Jörg D. Hoheisel and Laureen Sander at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Dr. Shoshi Greenberger at the Sheba Medical Center and Dr. Ronen Brenner at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Lab research was led by Dr. Shani Dror of Dr. Levy’s research group. (MFA)
With 50 raids in 2 hours, has Liberman begun to implement his new security plan?
In first major display of force under new defense chief, IDF conducts largest bombardment since 2014 war in response to rocket strike; that doesn’t mean a new war is imminent, however
By Judah Ari Gross the Times of Israel
Within a two-hour period, the Israel Defense Forces conducted approximately 50 strikes against Hamas installations in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday night, according to a military source.
This was the second round of combined aerial-tank strikes on Sunday, following a similar but smaller assault on Hamas installations in the Beit Hanoun area in the northern coastal enclave, and the largest Israeli bombardment since the 2014 Gaza war.
One rocket fired at Israel generally results in one retaliatory airstrike by the Israel Air Force. Israeli military officials have therefore described the large-scale strike, which came hours after a single projectile was fired at the southern city of Sderot, where it landed between two homes and near a college, as “exceptional” or “irregular” — though it may be a sign of things to come.
The Israeli airstrikes, though numerous and powerful enough to be heard from Israel, targeted Hamas infrastructure and caused little collateral damage, with Palestinian media reporting two to five people lightly injured; the most serious case appeared to have been a shrapnel wound to the foot.
Sunday evening also saw a Hamas parade through the streets of Rafah, with representatives from the Sunni terrorist group threatening violence against Israel if the Gaza blockade continues.
On Sunday night, Hamas officials claimed Israel was trying to “create a new status quo in the Gaza Strip,” while Israeli military officials rushed to announce on Monday morning that there was “no intention for escalation.”
Why then the “exceptional” IDF response?
In the hours since the Israeli airstrikes, many have pointed to hard-line Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as the force behind the large-scale and what some analysts have called “disproportionate,” retaliation.
However, this was not the first rocket attack by a terrorist group in the Gaza Strip since Liberman took over the Defense Ministry in May, nor was it the most destructive.
July 1, a rocket fired from Gaza struck a vacant Israeli preschool in Sderot, crashing through the ceiling and causing damage to the interior.
In contrast, Sunday’s rocket landed between two houses, causing neither injury nor serious property damage.
The upscaled response by the Israel Air Force appeared to be the latter half of Liberman’s new “carrot and stick” policy toward Palestinians, which he unveiled last week.
The relatively straightforward initiative entails punishing “bad” Palestinian cities — the hometowns of terrorists and sites of riots against Israeli security forces — while providing economic incentives to “good” Palestinian cities, those that remain quiet.
Though this was not the first rocket attack since Liberman took office, it was the first since he announced this new policy, a plan which has drawn the ire of more right-wing Knesset members, including Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich and Likud MK Yoav Kisch, for being too light-handed on Palestinians.
And while his policy dealt more specifically with the West Bank, Liberman’s new plan seems to have been applied to the Gaza Strip on Sunday night.
There also exists the possibility that the Israeli airstrikes performed an operational, and not only a deterrent, function — though this has not been officially confirmed by military sources.
Whether the airstrikes were an attempt by Liberman to prove to Israelis he would be tough on terror, a deterrent effort aimed at Hamas, a move toward some specific military objective or — most likely — a combination of the three, neither group appears interested in seeing this exchange of fire continue.
In the two years since the last Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, both sides have repeated numerous times that they don’t want renewed conflict — and that remains true.
Hamas, which lost a huge number of rockets and weapons in 2014, has faced difficulties getting its hands on materiel in light of the ongoing Israeli naval blockade and increased Egyptian crackdowns on subterranean smuggling. Therefore, the terrorist group is motivated to hold off on another round of fighting with Israel until it is better supplied and armed.
, on the other hand, seems to see quiet on the Gaza border as its own reward.
Moreover, Hamas has generally not launched rockets at Israel in the last two years. Instead, the 14 rockets fired toward Israel in 2016 have mostly been launched by fringe Salafist groups, some of them connected to the Islamic State, which have a tense, combative relationship with Hamas.
Unfortunately, in the two years since Protective Edge, it is said equally frequently that neither side needs to desire a war for one to occur.
The nature of Israel’s tit-for-tat relationship with the Gaza Strip’s terrorist rulers makes the situation ripe for rapid escalation.
A fringe terrorist group in Gaza fires one rocket, prompting an Israeli response. Not wanting to appear weak, Hamas fires back, prompting another Israeli retaliation, on and on ad bellum.
For both the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the Israelis in the surrounding communities, Sunday’s exchange was a reminder of what another war could mean — and why it should be avoided.