Israeli Navy ready to block Iranian oil exports in transit – Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is prepared to throw the power of its naval force – and urges the world to join in – to block the Iranian oil shipments circumventing unilaterally imposed US sanctions against Tehran.

“Iran is trying to bypass the sanctions on it through the covert smuggling of petroleum via the sea. As these attempts expand, the navy will have a more important role in efforts to block these Iranian actions,” Netanyahu said at a navy cadets’ graduation ceremony in Haifa on Wednesday.

Failing to explain how exactly Israel’s relatively small naval force would impose the suggested blockade against Iranian oil tankers, Netanyahu only emphasized that Israeli sailors are well-trained and adept at carrying out sea missions against adversaries.

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Washington sanctioned Iran’s oil, shipping and banking industries last November after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 JCPOA ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ to applause from Israel and to strong objections from the other signatories of the milestone accord and from Tehran’s business partners.

Aiming to reduce Tehran's oil exports to “zero,” the US threatened global oil buyers with secondary sanctions. Then, after the pressure failed to achieve expected results, a handful of countries were granted a special exemption, with Washington generously allowing them to continue buying crude from Tehran, for the time being.

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Furious at American bullying tactics, Iran’s armed forces have said they will protect its fleet of oil tankers against any threats that might jeopardize the shipments. Tehran is especially committed to ensuring safe passage through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which links the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world.

To tackle what it called Iran’s “illicit” economic activity at sea, Israel would need to expand its operating theater. Currently, the country is primarily active in the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea areas. Whether or not such potential Israeli missions would yield success is questionable, as Iran has far more superior capabilities at sea.

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Palestinian Toddlers Burn to Death After Israeli Troops Block Fire Brigade

Two Palestinian children were killed in a fire accident after Israeli forces blocked the fire brigade from reaching the scene on time.

Two Palestinian children, four-year-old Wael Rajabi and his 18-month-old sister Malik, died in a fire after Israeli authorities blocked the fire brigade from reaching their home in time.

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They were from the Al-Salaymeh neighborhood of Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank. One of them was reported dead in the fire, another child succumbed to the burns after receiving emergency treatment at the nearby Hebron government hospital.

Colonel Loai Arziqat, the local police spokesman confirmed the death of two children but did not elaborate on the whole situation.

According to local media reports, the emergency fire services were stopped by Israeli occupying forces. A video filmed at the scene shows that a fire engine trying to drive down a narrow street when it was stopped by a roadblock. The local residents pleaded to the Israeli soldiers to “open the gate quickly, for the children.”

A CHILD BURNED ALIVE➤ No Entry To Fire Fighting Crews A boy was burnt to death & his little sister suffered severe burns as the occupation forces BLOCKED a firefighting truck from reaching their burning house in Al-Salaymeh in

But they were unmoved. And eventually delayed the emergency service costing the lives of two children.

Israeli forces are known to restrict emergency services’ access to Palestinians.

According to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), citing the Palestine Red Crescent Society, since 2015, Israeli forces have obstructed ambulances 123 times. In addition, 105 ambulances were damaged and the Red Crescent teams in various locations were attacked 386 times.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, “The occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation… Personnel of the International Red Crescent Movement must be allowed to carry out their humanitarian activities.”

However, Israel has violated international law numerous times by not allowing Palestinians access to emergency services.

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Netanyahu in hot water amid claims he canceled Russia visit to pull ‘racists’ into his coalition

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for postponing a visit to Russia, saying that he is “working tirelessly” to incorporate far-right groups into his coalition instead.

Scheduled for Thursday, Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow was meant to focus on Syria and bilateral security issues, but the Kremlin had to postpone the meeting due to the Israeli PM’s “domestic political affairs,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said Netanyahu put off the Russia negotiations to hold talks with far-right groups to strengthen his coalition ahead of the April 9 Knesset election.

“The prime minister is tirelessly working to ensure the participation of a group of racists in his coalition.” 

The harsh accusations target Netanyahu’s Wednesday agreement with two fringe religious-nationalist parties, one of which, the Otzma Yehudit movement, is led by former disciples of the infamous ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was banned from taking part in the 1988 Knesset election over racist comments.

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Thursday is the deadline for the submission of party slates ahead of the parliamentary election. With less than two months before the election, Netanyahu faces increasing pressure from his opponents. In early February, he had to step down as foreign minister after a petition questioning his ability to hold multiple ministerial posts was filed to the High Court. Netanyahu, however, retained his posts of defense minister and healthcare head.

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‘They threatened us’: Award-winning ‘Gaza’ filmmakers faced censorship from Jewish groups

The director of a Goya Award-winning documentary ‘Gaza: A look into the eyes of barbarism’ says members of the Jewish community repeatedly used threats to get screenings scrapped in a bid to suppress the film.

“Israel uses its Jewish organizations which tried to censor our film… they tried to do it at various festivals and sometimes they succeeded, even when the film was already on the shortlist. We received many threats,” director Julio Perez told RT.

“We started planning to make this film after the last Israeli army invasion when lots of people in Gaza were killed.”

The film faced adversity from the beginning and the production crew had to beguile Israeli authorities just to gain access, under the pretense that they were conducting research into Gaza’s agricultural industry.

“That’s how we got there, but that wasn’t easy at all,” Perez explained. “The thing is, there’s a total legitimization of Israel’s actions and Israeli apartheid.”

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The initial proposal to screen the documentary film came from a local BDS group (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) which promotes non-violent resistance towards the state of Israel on behalf of Palestinians.

The film discusses, “The violation of human rights that they [the people of Gaza] suffer daily and the reality of the postwar blockade through which the population of the Gaza Strip attempts to survive” according to the blurb on Spain’s Goya Awards nominations page.

A recent episode saw a screening scheduled to take place in Madrid this Friday shelved following pressure from Jewish groups.

“They gave us serious motivation not to [screen it],” local priest Javier Baeza, of the San Carlos Borromeo community, told La Sexta. “They warned me very seriously: If I didn’t do it, they told me I would face the relevant canonical punishment.”

 

View image on Twitter View image on Twitter

San Carlos Borromeo @EntreBorromeos
Con tristeza os comunicamos la suspension por orden de @archimadrid de la proyección del documental "Gaza: una
mirada a los ojos de la barbarie"
"El fruto de la Justicia será la Paz" Isaias 32,17.

He added that “people from the Academy of Cinema” had told him that the film is “quite objective, not remotely vengeful.”

“It seems unlikely to us that the Academy would nominate something histrionic in nature.”

The local BDS chapter managed to find a secular alternative which couldn’t be pressured out of screening the film on Wednesday evening.

 

  • Published in Culture

Iran ready to ‘eliminate Israel from Earth,’ air force commander warns

The head of Iran’s air force has warned that Tehran is ready to “confront” and “eliminate” Israel. His fighting words come after Israel launched air raids on alleged Iranian targets inside Syria, killing 4 Syrian soldiers.

Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh, the commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), issued the provocative statement to the Young Journalist Club news agency, according Iranian media.

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“The young people in the air force are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth,” he said. “Our future generations are learning required know-how for the promised day to destroy Israel,” he added.

He stressed that Iran’s high level of military preparedness has deterred the country’s enemies from attacking the Islamic Republic.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his nation’s decision to strike targets inside Syria on Monday, describing the air raid as retribution against those who wish to destroy Israel.

“We are operating both against Iran and against the Syrian forces that are abetting the Iranian aggression,” Netanyahu said in a speech. “We will strike at anyone who tried to harm us. Whoever threatens to eliminate us, bears full responsibility.”

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Israel is believed to have fired dozens of missiles and guided bombs at targets inside Syria over the last 48 hours, purportedly targeting Iranian forces stationed in the country.

The strikes have killed four Syrian soldiers and left six others injured, the Russian Defense Ministry has said, as well as causing damage to Damascus International Airport. The ministry claims that Syrian forces have intercepted 30 Israeli missiles over the past 48 hours.

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Palestine to Apply For Full Membership at UN, Says Minister

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister will apply for Palestine's status as a full member of the United Nations. 

Palestinian Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Riyad Malki announced Wednesday that the occupied country would initiate an application to gain full membership at the United Nations.

RELATED: UN: Palestinians Must Have Control Over Natural Resources

Malki said that he would initiate an application seeking to upgrade Palestine’s status from an observer state to a full member state.

He will submit the application to the U.N. Security Council during an upcoming visit to New York in January.

Malki is scheduled to make his visit to take on the role of Palestine’s position as chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and China for 2019.

To obtain a full member position, Palestine needs the votes of 15 member countries of the U.N. Security Council. But if one of the permanent members of the Security Council, namely, the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China use their veto power, then the application will be rejected. The veto power can be used by the strongly pro-Israel U.S. administration which moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem earlier this year.

Malki will also highlight the increase in illegal expansion of Israel in the occupied West Bank where violent episodes have led to the deaths of four Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers.

Malki will demand that the U.N. Security Council implement Resolution 2334 and ask the International Criminal Court to start an investigation into Israel’s illegal settlement expansion.

The resolution says that the U.N. Secretary-General has to present a progress report on Israeli settlement activities every three months to the Security Council.

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UN set to leave half of Gaza and West Bank hungry, as food programme feels a lack of US money

The UN’s World Food Programme is cutting food aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, putting some 190,000 impoverished people at risk. The lack of US funding, stopped in September, is being acutely felt by aid workers.

Come January, 27,000 people in the West Bank will have their food assistance cut off, and 165,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza will have their food aid cut by 20 percent.

“WFP has been forced, unfortunately, to make drastic cuts to the number of people that we support across Palestine, both in Gaza and the West Bank,” Stephen Kearney, WFP country director in the Palestinian Territories, told Reuters.

US cuts to UN refugee agency are an ‘attack on Palestinians & intl law’ – Palestinian FM

Humanitarian groups working with Palestinians have seen record low funding levels this year, largely as a result of the US’s decision to end its $300 million support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian (UNRWA) in September.

UN’s Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Jamie McGoldrick, this week issued an appeal for $350 million to help the people in Palestine, particularly in Gaza which has experienced “serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation,” as a result of an “enormous rise” in casualties at the March of Return protests, outbreaks of violence and an economy that is in “freefall.” 

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“Our plan for 2019 prioritizes assistance for people assessed as being most in need of protection, food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation,” McGoldrick said on Monday. “It enables us to maximize limited funding. But much more is needed, and we stand ready to do more, if funding and operational space are improved.”

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Israeli Defence Minister Lieberman Resigns, Hamas Responds

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation early Wednesday after a disagreement over the Gaza ceasefire deal, reports AP. 

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced early Wednesday that he was resigning from the conservative coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a disagreement over the Gaza ceasefire deal, reports AP.

RELATED: Israel and Hamas Agree to Ceasefire in the Besieged Gaza Strip

Announcing his decision, which takes effect 48 hours after he puts it in writing, Lieberman deemed Tuesday’s Egyptian-mediated deal with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas “a capitulation to terror.”

In a statement, Lieberman said, "I didn't look for reasons to quit. I tried to remain a loyal government member, in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost."

The two turning points, he said, were the millions of dollars in cash delivered from Qatar to Gaza, and the cease-fire Israel reached with Hamas on Tuesday, reports Israeil news agency Haaretz.

In a press release sent out immediately after Lieberman's decision, Hamas celebrated, saying they rejoice at Lieberman's resignation, "This is a political victory for Gaza, which has succeeded in causing a political earthquake for the occupation."

Elhanan Miller @ElhananMiller

Hamas rejoices at Lieberman resignation: "This is a political victory for , which has succeeded in causing a political earthquake for the occupation."

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