The Arab/Iranian English Language Press: What they are saying

News in brief from the media

Apology Worse Than The Crime

The Arab Times, Kuwait reports: The Iranian apology to the United Nations Security Council over the attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad is, to say the least, worse than the crime itself. This is because the apology insinuates how the regime of peacocks in Tehran belittles the issues concerning the sovereignty of other countries and its lack of recognition for this sovereignty — a clear testimony to years of aggression against Saudi Arabia and the other GCC countries. Therefore, it is acceptable to fall for this ‘regret’ but the focus should be on the aggression itself. The attacks necessitate stern international position against the regime which does not respect and honor international agreements and pacts. The leaders of Tehran will definitely be hallucinating if they think they can pull the wool over the eyes through a statement which hides in its lines many evil intentions or stop the storm of condemnation and severing relations.

Jordan renews support for Saudi Arabia

The Jordan Times reports: His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday reviewed in separate telephone calls with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz regional developments, according to a Royal Court statement. In the two telephone calls, talks focused on Saturday’s assaults on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, which the statement described as “a blatant violation of international conventions”. His Majesty renewed Jordan’s full support for Saudi Arabia in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to protect its security and stability. His Majesty strongly condemned the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, the statement said. For their part, the Saudi monarch and deputy crown prince thanked Jordan for its stand and support, the Royal Court added. 

Djibouti cuts ties with Iran after attacks on Saudi missions

The Daily Star, Lebanon reports: Djibouti cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday, its foreign minister said, in response to the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by Iranian protesters. The tiny Horn of Africa nation, which is home to the United States’ only military base on the African continent, joins Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan in entirely severing relations with Iran. “Djibouti cut its diplomatic ties with Iran out of solidarity with Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told Reuters in a text message.

Palestinian Authority adrift after a long unrest

The Oman Observer reports: Three months into a wave of violence some have likened to a new uprising, the Palestinian Authority has found itself adrift and increasingly out of touch with frustrated youths behind the unrest, analysts say. There is even speculation of an eventual collapse of the PA, the governing authority set up under the 1990s Oslo accords that were meant to lead to a final peace deal. “Young people see no political horizon and suffer from economic crisis and unemployment,” with nearly half jobless compared with more than 27 per cent of the overall population, said Ghassan Khatib, vice-president of Birzeit University near Ramallah and a former Palestinian cabinet minister. Young Palestinians see little hope of an independent state more than two decades after the Oslo accords — and many do not feel president Mahmoud Abbas represents their concerns. They have come of age as Israeli settlement building has continued and with their own political leadership deeply fractured. In a recent poll, two-thirds of Palestinians said they believed a new armed intifada would serve “national interests” better than negotiations. Security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has at the same time been maintained, an arrangement some analysts say is vital for Abbas to keep hardliners who oppose him in check. Palestinian elections have not been held in a decade due to the bitter split between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Abbas’s Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank. Abbas’s mandate expired in 2009 but he remains in office because there have been no polls. The Palestinian parliament last met in 2007, following a general election the previous year won by Hamas. “The leaders are incapable of satisfying their (young Palestinians’) political and economic demands,” said Khatib.

Abbas denies concern of PA collapse

Gulf Times, Qatar reports: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dismissed yesterday weeks of rumours that the Palestinian Authority could collapse, saying he would “never give up” on it.
Abbas, 80, was speaking publicly for the first time since rumours surfaced last week that he was in poor health, which the PA has categorically denied. He did not discuss the matter and appeared well. He also spoke as three months of violent attacks by frustrated Palestinian youths on Israeli targets have made the PA and its leadership appear increasingly out of touch. The PA, the governing authority set up under the 1993 Oslo peace accords with Israel, has faced funding shortages, and its ongoing security co-operation with the Jewish state has been heavily criticised. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing a contingency plan in the event of the PA’s collapse, according Israeli media reports. “I have heard a lot of talk in the past few days about the Authority, the destruction of the Authority, the collapse of the Authority,” Abbas said. “The Authority is an achievement of ours that we will never give up.” “Don’t dream of its collapsing, don’t even dream,” he told a press conference during a lunch during a lunch to mark Christmas, which some Orthodox churches celebrate today.

Egyptian ambassador returns to Israel after 3-year hiatus

Arab News, Saudi Arabia reports: Israel says Egypt has sent a new ambassador after a three-year hiatus. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the ambassador, Hazem Hairat, arrived on Friday. Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace accord in 1979, but relations have often been cool. Egypt withdrew its ambassador in November 2012 to protest an Israeli offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. At the time, Egypt was led by Islamist President Muhammad Mursi. Since Mursi was ousted by the military in 2013, relations have steadily improved. In September, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, four years after it was ransacked by a crowd protesting the deaths of five Egyptian policemen killed unintentionally by Israeli forces chasing a group of Gaza militants.

Turkey diversifies allies with first Mideast military base in Qatar

Al-Arabiya , UAE reports: In view of rising regional threats, Turkey seems to be diversifying its potential allies, especially on the military and energy fronts. According to a decision announced Wednesday by Turkey’s ambassador to Qatar, Ankara will have its first Middle East military base in Qatar, with 3,000 troops to be stationed in the country. The base will be supported by air and naval units, special forces and military trainers. Joint training exercises will be held at the base, and Qatar will be able to set up its own base in Turkey. Qatar is home to the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, where about 10,000 military personnel are placed. Currently, 100 Turkish troops are providing the Qatari army with military training. This move is in line with a bilateral defense agreement – signed in 2014 and ratified by the Turkish parliament in June – with the aim of confronting “common enemies.”… The regional policies of the two countries coincide with their support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, while they also support efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They oppose Iran’s growing regional influence, and Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Hezbollah proxy ties with Iran divulged

Bahrain News Agency reports: Lebanese parliamentary Future Bloc today deplored the recent statements by a number of Hezbollah officials, considering the remarks as flagrant unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It said that these statements clearly revealed the relationship of Hezbollah with Iran and Iranian regional policies based on domination and interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries.
This came in a statement after the bloc’s weekly meeting on Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Turkey needs Israel: Erdogan

Egypt Independent reports: Turkey must accept that it needs Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday, as the two countries seek to thrash out a deal on normalizing ties. NATO member Turkey was a key regional ally of Israel until the two countries fell out over the deadly storming by Israeli commandos in 2010 of a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, bound for Gaza. Erdogan further raised hackles in Israel with his sometimes inflammatory rhetoric towards the Jewish State. But the atmosphere was transformed following the revelation last month the two sides were making progress in secret talks to seek a rapprochement. “Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region,” Erdogan said in remarks to Turkish reporters published in leading dailies Saturday. “And we too must accept that we need Israel. This is a reality in the region,” said Erdogan. “If mutual steps are implemented based on sincerity, then normalization will follow.”

Syrian Dissident: Execution of Saudi Cleric Plotted in Tel Aviv

Fars News Agency, Iran reports: A prominent Syrian dissident leader says Israel has persuaded the Riyadh government to kill prominent Saudi Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. “It is clear that the Saudis had taken order from their masters in Tel Aviv and the US to commit the crime of executing Sheikh Nimr; therefore, it is not surprising to say that the decision to execute Sheikh Nimr was taken in Tel Aviv and confirmed in Washington,” Secretary-General of al-Talia opposition party Noufal Noufal told FNA on Wednesday. He said that the al-Saud has always been a tool in the US hands to implement its plots in the region. Noting that the al-Saud and ISIL are two sides of the same coin which seek to foment sectarian strife in the region, Noufal said, “Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr to provoke Iran into sectarian tensions in the region but Iran sees no place for sectarian conflicts in its equations and assumes it to be an undignified move.”

747 children killed, 724 recruited in Yemen conflict, UN

Yemen Post reports: Some 747 children have been killed, 1.108 others injured and another 179 kidnapped since the conflict escalated in late March following the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, UNICEF said on Thursday.  Moreover, 724 children have been recruited by parties to the conflict in 2015, it said, pointing out that around 60 schools and 60 hospitals have been attacked, it said. In previous statement, lit revealed that ongoing bombing and increased ground fighting has forced 2 million children to stop going to school and 6 million children at risk of deadly diseases like diarrhea, measles and Polio. There is 1.3 million children at risk of pneumonia and 1.8 at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition, it added. Moreover, half of the internally displaced people, around 2.5 million, are below the age of 18, it said, pointing out that 10 million of the total of 21 million requiring humanitarian aid are children.  

And finally from the Arab News, Saudi Arabia.

Matrimonial 1: 

Indian Sunni Muslim parents invites alliance for their (Saudi born) son, 30 yrs, 5’11”, B.Tech, M.S.(USA), working in US(Green card); From religious minded fair , beautiful girl, age 22-27 yrs, height 5’3” and above, and professionally educated. Only seriously interested call at: 0565…

Matrimonial 2:

SM Urdu speaking parents from West Bengal presently residing at Jeddah invite alliance for their daughter, 26 yrs., 5’3”, beautiful, religious, brought up in KSA presently pursuing B.Sc (Psychology) from IOU. Groom should be smart, well settled and professionally qualified. Interested Indian parents please call at: 0501…

Matrimonial 3:

Sunni Muslim parents from HYD origin, Canadian Citizen, invite alliance for their son, 29 yrs., 5’10”, Diplomas in Avionics/Aircraft Maintenance, working at Toronto Pearson Intl. Airport in Canada as ramp agent. Girl to be above 24 yrs, 5’4”, fair. Kindly contact us at: hyd

(Photo credit: Freedom Messenger) 

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Hamas’ tunnels. More than 8 years in the making

The following report originally appeared in our January 28, 2009 issue.

SPECIAL REPORT | WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“If you wish to become a millionaire in Gaza, own a tunnel and smuggle goods including food, Viagra, alcohol, weapons and even a bride.”

gz11JANUARY 28, 2009. –  Mona Farah is a journalist for the Kuwaiti Arabic language publication Al Qabas. Recently she wrote a remarkable story about Gaza’s infamous tunnels and what they mean to the Palestinians living in Gaza, both as a source of employment and as a means to smuggle goods. Here’s a translation of some of what she had to say.

Since 2006, after Hamas won the legislative elections in the Gaza Strip, and the subsequent siege and the closure of the crossings, more than 95% of the goods sold in the markets of Gaza pass through the tunnels.

Gaza residents started digging tunnels in the early eighties in order to smuggle goods from Egypt. In the nineties, the tunnels were exploited by armed Palestinian groups in order to bring weapons into Gaza. After the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza [in 2005] the excavation work became much easier.

The tunnels are a world within themselves and are not without risks. 1,200 people died last year [working in the tunnels]. Everything is smuggled through them. From boxes of biscuits and diapers to food, medicine, clothing and footwear, electrical appliances, household fuel, weapons and motor vehicles and fertilizers which can be used in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices. People, both dead and alive are also transported through the tunnels. Goods such as drugs and hard currency are also smuggled [into Gaza] as well as prohibited goods such as alcohol and Viagra.

Hamas takes a percentage of the profits that accrue to traders smuggling the goods, and at the same time, has 100 per cent monopoly on many of the tunnels.

How to dig a tunnel for US$15,000-$60,000

56ccbea6-87a6-470a-9ba8-42b3961a00e1_maincategory1The construction of a tunnel, takes about five to eight months of continuous employment. The distance from the Egyptian border, and the distance into Gaza are determined by the total cost, estimated between US$15,000-$60,000. Half of the cost is paid to the home-owners living above the tunnels, and the remainder is to pay for supplies, drilling equipment, workers and engineers.

After searching for a house or a point close to the border area and measurements are taken, digging commences with a vertical 13 metres shaft, followed horizontally in the direction of Egypt. The construction of several rooms within the tunnel also take place. During the process there is always the fear of falling sand. After the tunnel reaches the Egyptian border, a metal skewer is pushed vertically to the surface in Egypt where people on the Egyptian side of the border commence to dig a vertical shaft connecting the opening to the tunnel.

There are tunnels under the houses in Gaza that are believed to have a military function, and this may explain the magnitude of the devastation caused recently by the Israelis. There was a large amount of arms smuggled through the tunnels and it was said that warehouses were filled with weapons. And then there are those smugglers who sell arms to other countries.

Reports indicate that Israel managed to destroy 50% of the estimated 850 tunnels, each one of which extends 700 metres to one kilometre in length. Builders are keen to build more tunnels so that the smuggling operations can continue in the event of additional Israeli raids or Egypt’s actions in closing one of the openings. You can identify some of the openings from a distance of 200 metres, as white plastic tents cover the holes for fear of rain water and soil erosion filling the tunnel.

40% of the profits go to Hamas

Since thousands of Palestinians work in the construction of the tunnels and in the smuggling trade, the Hamas government was prompted to organize and control this industry by taking 40 per cent of the profit from the smuggling operations.

It is estimated that the income made by the owner of a tunnel is at least US$50,000 per month

If you visit Rafah you will see modern luxury cars, and luxury homes acquired by the inhabitants of the region. It is said if you want to become a millionaire, own/dig a tunnel.

Farah adds that smuggling takes place only because of the economic conditions [in Gaza]. The Palestinians in Gaza say they did not resort to this profession for adventure or entertainment. Most of those who were working inside Israel lost their jobs after their work permits were cancelled and the crossings closed.

Young people between the ages of 17 and 35 years work in constructing the tunnels each of whom earns about US$100 for every one square meter built. The tools required to manually build a tunnel from beginning to end, consist of drilling equipment, baskets for the transfer of the soil, a generator for lighting the tunnel excavation, and wires that work the pulleys which will pull the goods transported through the tunnels.

According to Palestinian sources, more than 1,000 people have entered the Gaza Strip through tunnels [originating] in Egypt It has happened more than once that the tunnels have been used to transport a bride or groom from Rafah to Egypt or vice-versa. The tunnels have also been used to transport a dead body. The individual may have spent all of his life in Egypt without identification papers but wanted to be buried in Palestine. Wounded resistance fighters hurt in an operation against Israel have also used the tunnels as a means of acquiring treatment in Egypt.

Farah’s original article can be read in its entirety at: http://www.alqabas.com.kw/Article.aspx?id=468311&date=27012009

(Photo credits:  Propa Images and Al Qabas)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" | "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

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Sunday, March 30, 2014. It’s another Good News Day for Israel!

S&P: Israel now a ‘high-income’ country

The Times of Israel reports: Strong growth, low inflation, and a stable security situation are all good signs for the Israeli economy, the ratings agency says. In its ratings statement, S&P said that with a per capita annual income of over $38,000, “we now view Israel as a high-income economy, with trend growth at the higher end of its peer income group.”  Even better news for Israelis: S&P expects that per capita income figure to grow to almost $42,000 by 2017. Just five years ago, per capita income was about $28,000.  This is due, S&P said, to Israel’s “prosperous and diverse economy,” with a good mix of manufacturing and high-tech, and also to the benefits the economy will realize as the country’s natural gas production comes online. In its statement, S&P affirmed its long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings for Israel at A+/A-1.

‘Happy days’ for Israeli trade as delegation comes to Downing Street

The Jewish Chronicle, UK reports:  A 30-strong group of Israeli companies specialising in retail and water technology were welcomed to Downing Street last week, in a ground-breaking bid to strengthen trade ties with the UK. Heads of British corporations, from Marks and Spencer to Tesco and ASOS, were full of praise after attending events from Downing Street to the BT Tower and Science Museum. Daniel Saunders, who led the delegation visit co-organised by the Israeli Embassy in London and British Embassy’s Tech Hub in Tel Aviv, said both sides could benefit from Israel’s tech-prowess and Britain’s strong market outreach. “The UK is a great platform for Israeli companies; while revolutionary Israeli technology will help British companies better engage with their customers,” said Mr Saunders.

The best country for women in the Middle East

Jewish Business News reports:  The latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap survey ranked Israel the best country in the Middle East for women’s rights and freedoms.  Israel also received the “Reducing the Gender Gap” prize in 2013 from the European Parliament for championing women’s rights. In addition, Thomson-Reuters noted recently that several Middle Eastern countries – Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and others –  have a poor track record for violence against women, reproductive rights, as well as the treatment and role of women. Egypt bottomed out the list.

New treatment for pancreatic cancer?

Israel 21C reports: Cutting-edge research by scientists at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, is pointing towards development of new treatment for pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly and difficult cancers to manage successfully.  Whereas other cancers that have seen a reduction in incidence thanks to therapeutic advances and early detection, rates of pancreatic cancer have been slowly going up over the past 10 years…   The research team, led by Dr. Ziv Gil, Head of the Applied Cancer Research Laboratory at Rambam, is investigating the mechanism that triggers nerve invasion in pancreatic cancer and identifying specific targets for drugs that can effectively reduce it.

Israel debuts the World’s First Self-Cleaning Solar Farm

Inhabitat, USA reports: One of the challenges with solar power is keeping the panels clean, since dust and dirt drastically reduce the efficiency of photovoltaics. That’s particularly challenging for large solar parks, and especially ones that are located in the desert, where there is little water. Israeli company Eccopia has addressed that challenge with a clever robot that cleans the solar panels every day, increasing efficiency by up to 35 percent. This week the Kibbutz Ketura solar park installed Eccopia’s robots, making it the world’s first self-cleaning photovoltaic array.

Israel’s Project RAY Creates Advanced Smartphone And Apps For The Blind

No Camels, Israeli Innovation News reports: In 2012, NoCamels covered Project RAY, an ambitious Israeli company trying to bring the world of smartphones to the visually impaired. Since then the Project RAY smartphone has come a long way, introducing a world of apps designed specifically for the visually impaired, including a public transportation navigation system; an emergency orientation system and audio reading app. The menu and controls in the RAY Operating System, created by Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, were designed to be as simple as possible in order to cater to the blind, but the innovation behind the phone’s OS is far from basic. Project RAY’s Huawei smartphone is characterized by a unique feature that automatically aligns the phone’s menu to any point on the screen where the user makes contact, giving the user accurate orientation without the guesswork of figuring out if they have placed their finger in the right location.

Nazareth high-tech draws international investors

Israel Advanced Technology Industries reports: A day after Axis Innovation completed its two-day summit in Tel Aviv, where investors from around the world heard Israeli start-ups pitch their ideas, it did something it had never done before. It loaded the investors onto a bus and took them to Nazareth to meet Israeli-Arab start-ups. “We saw that there were good companies, enough to attract people to come up North,” said Ed Frank, who founded Axis (which he spun-off of Bootcamp Ventures). At the event, local entrepreneurs pitched their companies to investors from places as varied as India and Luxembourg. Nazareth has been the target of numerous efforts to help integrate Israel’s Arab community into the hi-tech world, a goal that has both macroeconomic and social justice justification.  Nazareth is also home to Galil Software, the largest employer of Arab engineers in Israel. “We see huge potential largely because the community is increasingly well-educated,” said Galil founder Jimmy Levy, who runs Al-Bawader, a venture capital fund investing in Arab start-ups. “It’s developing slowly, but the point is that there is progress and that’s undeniable.”

Deutsche Telekom: Israel and Germany are a good cultural fit

YNet News, Israel reports: Israel and Germany are a good cultural fit, says Guy Horowitz, the head of the German communications giant Deutsche Telekom’s Israel venturing office, and that makes the two nations good business partners…  After Silicon Valley in the US, Israel is the number two country in terms of innovation, venture capital investment and the number of startups, Horowitz says. His company, one of the biggest European telecommunication companies, has been doing business with Israel for more than 20 years…  “There is no doubt that there is innovation happening in Silicon Valley,” Guy Horowitz says, but getting Americans to care about Europe, Germany and Telekom is a challenge. In contrast, Israeli companies care more about doing business with Germany, he says. “We need to be here and have a strong presence.”

Start-ups hope to boost Israel-NZ trade

3News, New Zealand reports: A dozen hi-tech Israeli companies are visiting New Zealand in the hope of boosting trade between our two countries. One of the companies has developed a system to prevent cars colliding, and another is helping the disabled to walk. Radi Kiof has been in a wheelchair for 20 years, but he is walking again. “It is amazing, to come back and walk,” he says. The ReWalk exoskeleton was developed by Argo Medical Technologies. It uses powered leg attachments so paraplegics can stand up, walk and climb stairs. “My daughters, three years old, come and visit me at the company,” says Mr Kiof. “They say, ‘Father, you are tall.’ They have never seen me stand.” Israel has so many tech companies that it has become known as the start-up nation, with companies like Mobileye, which develops collision-avoidance systems.

Ormat, partners sign $1.17b Indonesian project financing

The Times of Israel reported earlier this week: Efrat’s Yitzchak Glick believes empathetic health care can go a long way in building bridges of peace. Doctor Yitzchak Glick was greeted like a king as he drove through the windy streets of Wadi Nis in his minivan. The previous day, the 800-resident hamlet had unexpectedly defeated Hebron in a soccer game 2-1, winning the Palestinian national cup. Glick decided to drive over from his home in the neighboring settlement of Efrat and congratulate his friends. . . “He’s a blessing,” said the elderly man before warmly embracing the American oleh.

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