Oil Spill Floods Israeli Nature Reserve (Reuters-Jerusalem Post)
An accidental rupture in the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline during maintenance work on Wednesday
flooded the Evrona desert nature reserve on the Jordanian border with millions of liters of oil.
"Crude oil flowed throughout the reserve, causing serious damage...to flora and fauna," Environment Ministry official Guy Samet told Israel Radio on Thursday.
The spill occurred 20 km. north of Eilat near Kibbutz Ketura.
Israel Says No Tunnels Dug Across Border from Lebanon (Xinhua-China)
No tunnels have been dug across the border from Lebanon, as Israel encountered along its border with Gaza during the war against Hamas over the summer.
"There are no infiltration tunnels at the northern border. The infrastructure we met during Operation Protective Edge [in Gaza] doesn't exist on the Lebanese border," Brig. Gen. Oshri Lugasi, commander of the Israeli military's Combat Engineering Corps, told Army Radio.
"We are carrying out many operations in order to make sure that there is no such infrastructure."
Gazans Face Winter in Ruins - Nidal al-Mughrabi and Luke Baker (Reuters)
Three months after the war in Gaza, barely any progress has been made on rebuilding the territory, despite donors pledging $5 billion.
Israel tightly monitors the import of construction materials and equipment into Gaza, arguing that otherwise it could be used to rebuild tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks.
Some 40,000 residents live in temporary shelter and thousands more are facing the winter rains in barely habitable ruins.
An Israeli government official said Israel was willing to help in any way to ensure reconstruction in Gaza moved forward rapidly, but it also wanted to be sure that Hamas was not rebuilding its militant infrastructure.
Israelis Invent New Wound-Closure Method - Dyana So (NoCamels)
Just as the ancient Egyptians used needles and thread to patch up their wounded, doctors employ the same stitching technology today.
While treating numerous casualties as chief of plastic surgery at Israel's Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, Dr. Moris Topaz developed a unique method to secure wound closure, called TopClosure.
TopClosure consists of cables and attachable clasps which place far less tension on the skin than a suture.
TopClosure already is being used in field hospitals to temporarily treat soldier's combat wounds.
"The most important thing about TopClosure is its simplicity," Dr. Topaz said. "Doctors commonly say, 'Why didn't we think of this earlier?'"
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- U.S. Congress Passes Israel Strategic Partnership Bill
U.S. lawmakers voted Wednesday to make Israel a "major strategic partner."
The House unanimously approved the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which expands cooperation in defense and security, energy, research and development, business, agriculture, water management and academics. The measure declares Washington's "unwavering support" for Israel as a Jewish state. The bill passed the Senate unanimously in September.
The legislation would expand the U.S. weapons stockpile in Israel by some $200 million in value. It also allows Israel to use the weapons in the event of an emergency, as it did this summer in Gaza.
- Israel, Iran Lock Horns at UN
Iran is seeking to become vice chair of a UN committee that decides accreditation of non-governmental organizations, a move that Israel on Tuesday compared to gangster Al Capone running the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Iran, the U.S. and Israel are all members of the 19-member committee.
"Imagine if Iran ran this committee in the same way it runs its country - human rights activists would be detained, journalists would be tortured, and anyone with a social media account would find himself arrested on fabricated charges," said Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor.
- U.S.-Led Coalition Halting Islamic State Advances, Officials Say - Carol Morello
The military campaign against Islamist extremists in Syria and Iraq is inflicting heavy damage, said coalition officials in Brussels, where foreign ministers of 60 nations are meeting. In a joint statement, the ministers said that the Islamic State's advances are being halted and that airstrikes on its strongholds have helped Iraqi and Kurdish troops reclaim territory. But they cautioned that the Islamic State is far from defeated.
Nevertheless, the Islamic State has continued to expand its influence across the Middle East and North Africa. Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who heads the U.S. Africa Command, said Wednesday that the U.S. military is now tracking militant training camps in eastern Libya affiliated with the group.
See also IS Attacks Government Airbase in Eastern Syria
Islamic State militants launched an attack against the last major Syrian military airbase in Deir el-Zour province, activists said Thursday. IS already controls almost the entire province. (AP-Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinian Stabs Two Israelis at West Bank Supermarket - Tovah Lazaroff
A Palestinian stabbed two Israelis at a supermarket in Mishor Adumim in the West Bank on Wednesday. An off-duty security guard from the Prime Minister's Office who witnessed the stabbings shot and wounded the Palestinian, who was from the nearby village of Eizariya. One of the wounded Israelis, who himself is a paramedic, called the Magen David Adom emergency hotline.
The Mishor Adumim Industrial Park employs some 2,500 Palestinians who work alongside Israelis. Both Israelis and Palestinians work and shop in the Rami Levy supermarket.
- Israeli Murdered by Palestinians in West Bank - Akiva Novick
On Monday, Avi Ben-Zion, a farmer from Netiv HaGdud in the West Bank, was heading home when several Palestinians stopped him and pulled him out of his car, after which they pounded his head with an iron bar and escaped with his vehicle. Ben-Tzion was found lying in the middle of the road in what was initially believed to have been a traffic accident. He died on Wednesday. IDF soldiers later arrested three Palestinians in towns near the scene of the attack.
- Israeli Border Police Capture Terrorist after High-Speed Chase - Daniel Tauber and Daniel K. Eisenbud
Israeli border police pursued a Palestinian terrorist who threw a pipe bomb at their patrol car in Abu Dis on the outskirts of Jerusalem early Wednesday morning, capturing him after a high-speed chase. They found three additional pipe bombs in his car. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel's Right to a Jewish Identity - Adam Levick
If the Guardian or New York Times published a long essay about some tiny, obscure indigenous tribe in Africa with a language, culture, and religious tradition unique in the region, whose history extends several thousand years and was threatened with extinction, readers would almost certainly lament their plight.
Further, it certainly seems unlikely that many readers would challenge the tribe's vigilance in protecting its ancient traditions, or its fierce desire to prevent the erosion of its unique religious-ethnic identity.
The broader debate about Israel's right to identify with a specific religious tradition is the subtext underlying many debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 64 countries have national flags that include religious symbols. Nearly half have Christian symbols and a third include Islamic symbols. 57 countries self-identify as uniquely Muslim states.
Jews are not at all unique in seeking to maintain a majority citizenry united by a similar historical memory and a common political and moral destiny.
The existence of a sovereign Jewish polity is no mere religious, abstract, or ideologically driven desire. Rather, it is a rational approach to ensuring the safety of a small, historically persecuted minority who can no longer risk relying on the goodwill of enlightened nations to ensure its well-being and survival. (CiF Watch-Guardian-UK)
- The IDF's Offensive Electronic Warfare Battalion - Yaakov Lappin
The IDF's offensive Electronic Warfare Battalion is tasked with disrupting the communications capabilities of terrorist organizations and enemy states. The battalion, 40% of whose members are female, is under the direct command of the IDF General Staff.
"Anything that passes through the air, we can target," said a senior officer. "Who is the other side? Anyone who is armed and seeks to do us harm. Hizbullah, Hamas and hostile states." "We can thwart terror attacks. I can protect my forces from bombs, if they are targeted with [remote control] explosives. This is part of the security envelope we offer them."
The battalion can take over mass-media broadcasts in Gaza, Lebanon or other locations. When a senior Hamas terrorist suddenly sees the IDF chief of staff on his television giving him 12 hours to clear the area, it "undermines his sense of security," the officer said.
- Israeli Industry Must Make a Passage to India - Moshe Arens
In a few years India will rank among the world's four largest economies, together with the U.S., China and Japan. Terrorist acts have been an ongoing problem in India and make for common ground in the increasingly close relations between India and Israel. New Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a known friend of Israel, has expressed interest in building closer ties between the two countries. This development represents a great opportunity for Israel on the diplomatic and economic fronts.
Abbas Shuts the Door to Negotiations with Israel - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- On Nov. 29, the Arab League approved a political action plan by PA President Mahmoud Abbas aimed at imposing the establishment of a Palestinian state without any political compromise on the Palestinians' part.
Jordan, currently the only Arab member of the UN Security Council, will submit a resolution to the Council along the lines of Abbas' plan in the coming days.
- The plan involves internationalizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by having the Security Council fix a date for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.
- Abbas, who claimed there was no longer an Israeli partner for a political settlement, said his plan includes having the "state of Palestine" join international conventions and organizations, particularly the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and requesting the UN to provide protection to the Palestinian people.
- Abbas' political plan shuts the door to any possibility of reaching a political settlement through negotiations with Israel.
The conditions he has presented for resuming negotiations impose terms on Israel with no reciprocity from the Palestinians in the context of a political compromise.
- Abbas is trying to exert pressure on the U.S., the international community, and Israel simultaneously.
Abbas hopes to goad the international community into forcing Israel to recognize a sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines without a peace agreement being signed.
- The Palestinian Authority is determined, even at the price of a run-in with the U.S. and Israel, to advance a unilateral political process that is aimed against Israel. The rioting and terror in Jerusalem and the West Bank, which are being encouraged by the Palestinian Authority, serve as a form of pressure on Israel and are also aimed at spurring the international community's intervention.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center, is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.
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