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Dempsey: Israel Satisfied US will Use Military Option Against Iran, but Israel Doesn't Say This

By YnetNews.com & DEBKAfile

Israel and the United States have reached a general understanding regarding the Iranian threat to the Middle East, said the top American general, USA Today reported. "I think they are satisfied that we have the capability to use a military option if the Iranians choose to stray off the diplomatic path," said Gen. Martin Dempsey of the Israeli officials he met. "I think they are satisfied we have the capability. I think they believe we will use it," he emphasized.

Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently returned from a two-day visit to Israel to discuss regional security issues and cooperation between Israel and the US. He met with a number of Israeli officials including his counterpart, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.

However, DEBKAfile sources tracking his talks did not receive that impression from Israeli officials. They did not subscribe to his statement that "Israel and the United States are in broad agreement about the threat that Iran poses to the region and how to deal with it."

The US general admitted there were differences but added that Israel and the United States are closer now in their assessments of the threat Iran poses and America's willingness to act. "They just wanted to know that we are maintaining and continuing to refine our military options," he said. "Our clocks are more harmonized than they were two years ago," said Dempsey, "They just wanted to know that we are maintaining and continuing to refine our military options."

Some of the tension between the two came to light after the US and other world powers negotiated an interim agreement with Iran in which sanctions would be softened if Tehran took agreed-upon steps to control its nuclear program.

Israeli officials have publicly expressed their concern with that agreement, and the intelligence estimates over the timetable for an Iranian nuclear weapon have often been at odds.


Foreign Ministry Workers End Strike That Closed Embassies

By Reuters

The Foreign Ministry workers on Wednesday ended a 10-day strike that closed embassies around the world after signing a new agreement to improve their job conditions.

The dispute had threatened to delay a visit by Pope Francis to Israel planned for May - one of 25 trips by foreign officials affected by what first started as a work slowdown on March 5, when wage talks broke down.

The staff escalated the action to a full strike a few weeks later - the first by the diplomatic corps since the country was established in 1948 - closing all of Israel's 102 missions abroad and paralyzing most diplomatic work with other countries and the United Nations.

Israeli diplomats found a diplomatic end to the strike. "We reached an agreement that will strengthen the foreign service and help the country's envoys in the world to work for a long time in Israel's diplomatic corps," said Finance Ministry official Kobi Amsalem in a statement.

While the diplomats' wages will now be closer to those of their colleagues in Israel's intelligence and security communities, "there's still a wide distance that we will have to bridge in the future," the union said.


Massive 3,800-Year-Old Fortress Uncovered in the City of David

By YnetNews.com

The biggest fortress ever uncovered in Israel from the pre-Herod period was inaugurated on Tuesday in a secret ceremony. The fortress, that was built some 3,800 years ago, was uncovered during a 15-year archeological dig in the City of David, one of the most complex and unique digs ever done in Israel.

The Spring House - a massive Canaanite fortress, that was built in the 18 century BCE, was excavated in a complex operation led by Prof. Ronny Reich from Haifa University and Eli Shukron from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The fortress protects the Biblical Gihon Spring with a massive fortification that isolates the spring and allows access to it only to those coming from the west - from inside the city.

According to Samuel II chapter 5, King David conquered the "Zion Fortress" from the Jebusite king and his men. The Spring House raises the possibility that it is the same impressive fortress, into which King David's men entered as they were conquering Jerusalem from the Jebusites.

At the beginning of Kings I, Nathan the prophet and Tzadok HaKohen describe King Solomon's coronation as taking place "on Gihon." This ceremony took place, researchers believe, at the heart of the Spring House - over the gushing Gihon Spring.

"When we open the Bible and read about King Solomon who was crowned here, on the Gihon Spring - today you can come and see: this is where it happened. This is where it all started," said Oriya Desberg, the manager of development at the City of David.

Archeological digs in the Biblical City of David started in 1867 - exactly 100 years before the city returned to Jewish control - by The Palestine Exploration Fund (P.E.F), led by Captain Charles Warren. But the first excavator to reach the thick of the fortress, without even realizing it at the time, was a treasure hunter by the name of Montague Parker, who was searching for the Ark of the Covenant and King Solomon's treasures in the heart of the massive Canaanite fortress between the years 1909-1911.

Parker's first dig was done in complete secrecy after he bribed the Turks to allow him to dig in the site. In May 1911, an attentive guard who was not among the bribe receivers found out about the dig. Parker had to flee for his life and escape to Cyprus on a yacht that was waiting for him at the Jaffa Port. The remnants of the tunnels Parker and his men dug up a century ago can be seen today in the fortress' upper part.

The fortress - that has seven-meters-thick walls made up of 2-3 meters-big stones - was built 3,800 years ago without any mechanic tools. "In order to protect the water source, they built not only the tower - but also a fortified passageway that allowed the city residents a safe access to the water source," archeologist G. Uziel said. "This very impressive structure was operating until the end of the Iron Age, and it was only when the First Temple was destroyed that the fortress fell into ruin and stopped being used."


Ahead of Passover, Netanyahu Visits Matzah Bakery

By Israel Hayom & Tazpit News Agency

With the Passover holiday fast approaching, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited a matzah bakery in Kfar Chabad on Tuesday. http://youtu.be/jhLKQ0Gir6A

"At home, I have eaten this matzah for years," Netanyahu said. "Today, for the first time, I am also preparing it myself. I am very excited. I wish the entire Jewish people a Happy Passover."http://youtu.be/5N18x7tfjwY

"In every generation, enemies rise up to destroy us, but God saves us from them," Netanyahu said. "The Haggadah mentions four sons -- wise, wicked, simple and the one who does not know how to ask -- but each one has a Jewish spark and you watch over this Jewish spark."

Local Chabad leaders and rabbis briefed Netanyahu on the preparations to hold Passover Seders in approximately 250 Chabad houses throughout Israel as well as approximately 3,000 Chabad houses across the world. They also gave him a tour of the matzah factory and instructed him on how to properly bake the matzah.

Chabad leaders told Netanyahu that eating the matzah – the traditional unleavened bread eaten on Passover – expresses the belief that the Jewish people can withstand any pressure and asked that he continue to stand up for the freedom of the State of Israel.

Netanyahu also added that he was looking forward to the Passover holiday, which begins on Monday night, April 14. "I am very excited. I wish the entire Jewish People a Happy Passover."


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