UPDATES 9 am Israel time, Friday, November 22 2013:
**The IDF revealed yesterday that Hamas is now using a network of helium balloons to spy on Israel. The balloons have been placed all along the Gaza border and are outfitted with sophisticated cameras that allow them to “see” deep into Israel.
Actually, the revelation was after the fact. Hamas published pictures of two of the balloons on Facebook several days ago.
The ludicrous irony of this entire situation concerns the source of the helium. It turns out that the idiotic COGAT unit of the IDF approved the transport of helium gas into Gaza several months ago for “humanitarian needs” (short of providing laughing gas at the dentist’s office, one wonders what humanitarian need “needs” helium. Apparently it never crossed the minds of the fools in COGAT that Hamas would use helium for spy balloons. Unbelievable.
Now, according to the IDF statement yesterday, the approval for helium transport into Gaza is “under review”.
**In an interesting and somewhat surprising election result in the Labor Party (Avodah) primary, Shelly Yachimovich, the head of Labor has been voted out as head, and Isaac Herzog has been voted in.
The move is likely to have two results–the Labor Party will likely move further to the left but paradoxically will be more likely to join the Netanyahu coalition government. Herzog has long been a critic of the fact that Labor is on the outside looking in.
**According to the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Palestinian Authority (never a completely reliable source of information about anything), there are currently just over 100,000 Palestinians working in Israel.
Insofar as the 100,000 are concerned:
*20,000 of them are employed in Judea and Samaria
*35,000 of them are in Israel illegally with no work permit
*60,000 of them are working in construction
These numbers are undoubtedly understated (the Palestinians obviously want to downplay their dependence on Israel). The sheer number of Palestinians working in Israel is hard to fathom; here in your humble servant’s city of Ashdod for example, there are thousands of Palestinian workers. In our neighborhood alone, there are undocumented Palestinians living in houses that are being constructed and completed houses that stand empty.
All of this is worth mentioning because Israel is often accused of not allowing Palestinians into the country to work. The next time someone tells you that, remind them that there are more than one hundred thousand Palestinian workers in the country–and the police do next to nothing to stop the entry of illegal workers.
Your humble servant dislikes continuing to dwell on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in multiple blogs this week, but yesterday saw him making even more preposterous comments.
Obviously, the issue of uranium enrichment is of paramount importance when considering whether Iran is attempting to build nuclear weapons. Over the last year, the world has seen the level of Iranian enrichment steadily increase as the country’s drive toward nuclear weapons has intensified; you certainly remember PM Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations last year when he made uranium enrichment a literal red line.
Yesterday, in responding to a question about discussions concerning Iranian enrichment, Kerry pointed out that reduction of uranium enrichment is not even on the table insofar as an interim agreement with the Iranians is concerned: “We are at the initial stage of determining whether or not there is a first step that could be taken, and that certainly will not be resolved in any first step, I can assure you.”
No resolution of uranium enrichment in the initial stage?
As far as the Iranians are concerned, it appears that there will never be a resolution of the issue. Yesterday, the Iranians indicated that they may be ready to “concede” to the West that no recognition of their “right” to enrich uranium is necessary–as long as they are permitted to continue enriching it. Unbelievable.
Meanwhile, unnamed Israeli diplomats have gone on the attack against the clueless Kerry. Yesterday, these comments were reported in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper from one such diplomat: “You need to say the truth. Kerry just doesn’t understand the matter. He doesn’t exactly know what is being discussed. Just a few days ago he talked about the need to inspect the reactor core in Qom, except the Qom reactor core is already under inspection.”
Perhaps Kerry’s most absurd comments of the day, however, came in a bizarre response to a question posed by a senator on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That senator wanted to know why Kerry (and Obama) had not responded to Iranian “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei’s comments on Iranian TV two days ago: “Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them. The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.”
Kerry’s reply was instructive:
“ . . . obviously we disagree with [Khamenei’s statements] profoundly . . . It’s inflammatory and it’s unnecessary, and I think at this moment, when we are trying to negotiate and figure out what can and can’t be achieved, the last thing we need are names back and forth.”*
Names back and forth? Childish taunting? This is what the Obama White House is now calling Iranian threats to annihilate Israel?
And therein lies the problem. Barack Obama and John Kerry do not see the Iranians as an existential threat. They are children whose bad behavior will disappear if only they are loved enough.
*As reported in the Jerusalem Post.