UPDATES 9:30 am Israel time, Thursday, August 22 2013:
*A report on Israeli TV Channel 10 last night documented a large number of Israeli Druse youth crossing the Syrian border to return to their universities in Damascus for the Fall term. The amazing disconnect of these smiling, blase, Israeli-looking kids being sent off to their schools in the midst of the reports of more than 1500 Syrians gassed to death in a Damascus Sunni suburb yesterday was striking.
One Druse father had this to say: “Syria is no more dangerous than anywhere else. I’m sure everything will be all right.” Absolutely amazing–especially considering that this dribble of students into Syria stands in marked contrast to the vast numbers of those Syrians escaping into Lebanon and Jordan. Note the following aerial photograph that appeared today:
*There is not much to add to the horrific scenes of the dead in Damascus except that the Egyptian Army overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have emboldened Assad to carry out nerve gas attacks against Sunni neighborhoods and communities in the country–especially when he has the support of the Russians and the Chinese in the United Nations.
*On the subject of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was released yesterday as the Egyptian prosecutor elected not to appeal his acquittal on corruption charges. Reports are that the 85 year old former leader–who was so ignominiously thrown under the bus by the West–is suffering from pancreatic cancer and will be taken straight to a hospital (location unknown).
In the midst of regional upheaval, the Israeli economic engine just keeps humming along fueled in part by the prospect of less expensive fuel now flowing from Israeli gas fields in the Mediterranean.
Yesterday, the discovery of yet another gas field was announced containing about 19 billion cu meters of natural gas adjacent to the already producing 282 billion cu meter Tamar field, and not too far from the 535 billion cu meter Leviathan reservoir. This new field has been named “Tamar Southwest.”
Perhaps just as interesting was the announcement that the same two Israeli companies (Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration) and American company (Noble Energy) that are carrying out the drilling and production in Israeli coastal waters are beginning activities at the site of a new find off the coast of Cyprus. This site in Cyprus’ Block 12 is called the Aphrodite A2 reservoir.
The extent to which Israel is now drilling up and down our Mediterranean coastline is not fully recognized. Your humble servant goes to sleep each night with a view of the well-lit oil and gas platforms out in the Mediterranean off the coast here in Ashdod. The turnaround in Israel energy self-sufficiency is truly astonishing.
Today’s blog ends with a quotation from Moody’s credit rating services which was issued 6 days ago and affirmed Israel’s A1 debt rating . It paints a solid picture of the Israeli economy:
“Growth in the small, open economy has been sustained even with shrinking demand from Europe, a key trading partner. The country’s high-tech niche and entrepreneurial culture have continued to underpin its latent dynamism and attract sizeable foreign investment inflows. Together with current account surpluses and intervention to combat the shekel’s strength, these inflows have raised official reserves to record high levels. Moreover, Moody’s expects the startup of significant production — and likely exportation in a few years — of natural gas to bolster growth, further strengthen the external position and reduce tax pressure on companies and households.”
Why not invest in Israel? Everyone else is.