Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The importance of Ben Gurion airport to Israel


From The Christian Science Monitor, Security Watch - A rocket blast near Israel's main international airport triggered major flight cancelations today for the first time in more than two decades. While the recent destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 probably has airlines and regulators more nervous than usual, rocket fire from Gaza now poses more of a threat to Israeli civil aviation than ever before.

Why is Ben Gurion so important to Israel?

Imagine if the United States had only one airport and that driving in and out of the country wasn't really an option. That should give you an idea of how important Ben Gurion Airport is to both Israel's economy and its sense of national well-being. The airport is named for David Ben-Gurion, a Pole who emigrated to Ottoman Palestine in the early 20th Century and devoted his life to the Zionist ideal. In 1948 he proclaimed the country's independence and became its first prime minister.

And for the vast majority of Israelis Ben Gurion has been the national gateway for generations. About 30 percent of Jewish Israelis are immigrants from other countries and many others continue to have extended family abroad, particularly in the US and Europe. Overseas travel is common for both business and pleasure, and the airport is seen as crucial link to the rest of the world. Last year, about 14 million passengers passed through the airport in a country with a population that's about 8 million. Moreover, foreign tourists and businessmen rely on the airport as well, and extended closures or fears about Ben Gurion could easily see investment diverted elsewhere. more

Egypt turns back Tunisian plane loaded with medical supplies for Gaza


TUNIS, (PIC)-- Head of Tunisia's al-Nahda party Rashid al-Ghannoushi revealed on Monday night that Egypt has refused to receive a Tunisian plane bound for Gaza loaded with medicines and medical supplies.

Al-Ghannoushi told Al-Jazeera TV network that the Egyptian authorities had refused to allow the plane to land at the airport nearest to the Gaza Strip, pointing out that it was carrying medical supplies badly needed in the beleaguered Strip.

The plane was supposed to fly back injured people who sustained serious wounds during the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza to receive treatment in Tunisia, he explained.

Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki had declared a week ago his country's intention to send a plane carrying medicines and medical supplies for Gaza Strip.

Along the same line, the Egyptian authorities continued to prevent a team of European specialized surgeons from having access to Gaza despite possessing the needed papers for that. more

US airlines stop all flights to Israel in blow to Netanyahu


Delta Airlines announced Tuesday that it is halting all flights to Israel indefinitely as violence wrecks the region, according to the Associated Press. United Airlines has also decided to suspend flights to and from Tel Aviv until further notice, according to a company spokesperson.

A Delta flight from New York to Tel Aviv was diverted on Tuesday amid reports that a rocket landed near Ben Gurion Airport, the AP reports. The plane turned around mid-flight and headed to Paris.

It's not yet clear whether all other airlines are going to halt flights to Israel, but U.S. Airways canceled its Tuesday flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv.

There have been several red alerts in Lod, the town near Tel Aviv where the international airport is located, since the escalation between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, began two weeks ago.

It's long been thought that the potential inoperability of Ben Gurion is a strategic red line for Israel.

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46 Palestinians killed as Israeli assault continues - death toll 607


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- At least 46 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Tuesday as Israel's military assault entered its 15th day, bringing the total death toll to over 600 people since July 8.

In the latest airstrikes, four members of the same family were killed in Gaza City. They were identified as Muhammad Shehadeh Hajjaj, 31, Fayzeh Saleh Hajjaj, 66, Rawan Ziad Hajjaj, 15, and Yousef Muhammed Hajjaj, 28.

Earlier, two elderly women were killed in Rafah, southern Gaza. Medics identified them as Hakema Nafe Abu Odwan, 75, and Najah Nafe Abu Odwan, 85.

Four Palestinians were killed in al-Bureij refugee camp and Hasan Shabaan Khamase, 28, was killed in al-Maghazi camp in central Gaza.

Ahmed Asad al-Badde, 24, was killed in Beit Lahiya and the bodies of Tarek Fayek Hajjaj, 22, and Ahmed Ziad Hajjaj, 21, and Mosaab Nafeth Ejla, 30, were pulled from rubble in the al-Shujaiyeh neighborhood, which suffered heavy bombing on Sunday.

Earlier, the bodies of 65-year-old Muhammad Khalil Ahel and Hamada Eleiwa were found in the Gaza City neighborhoods of Shajaiyeh and Zaytoun.

Another man was killed in an airstrike on Beit Lahiya, while three people died in shelling on the al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City. more

Palestinians in Israel clash with police over Gaza assault


NAZERETH, Israel (AFP) -- Palestinian citizens of Israel clashed with police in the northern city of Nazareth on Monday, police said, at the end of a protest against Israel's deadly military strikes in the Gaza Strip.

The clashes came as Nazareth and cities in the West Bank observed a general strike to mourn the victims of the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas -- the bloodiest since 2009 -- that has cost more than 500 Palestinian lives in two weeks.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said about 200 Palestinian citizens of Israel in Nazareth clashed with security forces, who responded with a water cannon and stun grenades, arresting 16 people after the 3,000-strong demonstration in Israel's largest Palestinian city.

Demonstrators held up placards reading "Israeli army commits genocide in Gaza." more

Israel is being defeated in Gaza as it was in Lebanon


From the Electronic Intifada, by Ali Abunimah (founder) - This evening I gave an interview to Al Jazeera English (video above). I would like to develop some of the points I made.

If military victory and strength are measured in the number of civilians, especially children, that an army can deliberately target and slaughter with sophisticated machines, then there is no doubt that Israel is winning in Gaza, and has always been the winner in Palestine.
But even though it is still mercilessly killing civilians in Gaza as I write these words, Israel has, in political and strategic terms, already lost the “war” it launched on Gaza on the false pretext of stopping rockets.

As I’ve argued repeatedly, and as the facts show, the easy and time-tested way for Israel not to receive rockets from Gaza is not to attack Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel’s defeat in Gaza will be as significant as its defeat in Lebanon in 2006 (where it also “won” in terms of murdering civilians: 1,200 in total, a third of them children).

Lebanon off limits

For decades, when Israeli leaders needed to court popularity or create a distraction, they attacked or invaded Lebanon, slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians with total impunity.

Due to fierce resistance that Israel did not expect, the Israeli army lost 121 soldiers during its 34-day invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Since that painful lesson, even an Israeli prime minister as foolish as Benjamin Netanyahu would not be eager to repeat the experience of his predecessor Ehud Olmert.

With Lebanon off limits, Gaza became Israel’s convenient outlet for its bloodlust, with repeated massacres in 2006 (during the Lebanon war!), in December 2008-January 2009, in November 2012 and now.

All these massacres have been committed against a population held in an open-air prison, virtually cut off from the outside world.

Israel found it could bomb Gaza from the air and, yes, even though the resistance could fire rockets back, these amounted to pinpricks.

Only when large barrages are being fired in the context of Israel’s present massive assault do rockets from Gaza cause more damage, but very little is physical: it is economic and psychological. more

Security source: Israeli shoots Palestinian dead in W. Bank


RAMALLAH (AFP) -- An Israeli shot dead a Palestinian who had been throwing stones at his car north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, a Palestinian security source said late Monday.

The security source named the fatality as Mahmoud Shawamreh, 21, of al-Ram. He said the incident took place between al-Ram and the Hizma checkpoint, and the body was taken to Israel.

Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the Israeli army said: "The incident in which the Palestinian was killed during a violent riot near Ramallah is being investigated by the military police."

Tensions in the West Bank had been running high since the abduction and murder of three Israeli youths there last month, which prompted a major crackdown on Hamas, blamed by Israel for the deed. more

Israeli soldier 'missing' since Sunday admits IDF


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli soldier has been classified as "missing" since Sunday, Israeli media reported Tuesday, two days after Hamas' military wing announced the capture of a soldier.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that a soldier had been declared missing and "presumed dead" after Palestinian militants attacked an armored vehicle carrying seven soldiers in Gaza City on Sunday.

The Hamas-affiliated al-Qassam Brigades said on Sunday night that it had captured an Israeli soldier, the first since the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011.

Al-Qassam Brigades said during a speech by spokesman Abu Ubaida aired live on Ma'an News that the captured soldier is named Shaul Aron and his military number is 6092065. more

Over 12 killed as Israel continues targeting Gaza homes - death toll 583


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Over a dozen Palestinians were killed overnight and early Tuesday as Israeli warplanes and artillery targeted Palestinian homes in Gaza, as the major offensive continued for a 15th day.

In Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, six Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said.

Al-Qidra identified the victims as Ibtihal Ibrahim Rimahi, Yousif Ibrahim Rimahi, Eiman Ibrahim Rimahi, Salwa Abu Munifi, and Samirah Abu Munifi. At least 10 other Palestinians were injured in the attacks.

Earlier, an airstrike hit the home of Abdullah al-Buheisi in Deir al-Balah, killing him. Five others were injured. more