Newsletter : 15fx0617.txt
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Israeli and Hamas Source Confirm 'Indirect Contacts'
An Israeli source confirmed on Tuesday night there had been indirect contacts between
Israel and Hamas, hours after sources in the terrorist group said Israel and Hamas have
been holding indirect contacts about ideas for cementing a long-term truce in Gaza. "There
are contacts with Egypt and other elements over an easing of the blockade and the entry of
materials to Gaza in exchange for quiet," the Israeli source told AFP.
"But Hamas is finding it difficult to control Islamic Jihad and other elements in order
to do this," he said, referring to the recent flurry of sporadic rocket fire from Gaza,
most of which have been claimed by a small Islamic extremist group bent on challenging the
ruling Hamas movement.
A source with Hamas told AFP earlier that the contacts with Israel have gone through a
number of Arab and European channels in a bid to firm up an informal ceasefire agreement
that took hold last August, ending a 50-day war in Gaza started when Hamas escalated its
rocket attacks on Israeli civilian centers. "There has been indirect contact between
Israel and Hamas, messages passed via Arab channels as well as through European and
Turkish sources," one of the sources said, describing it as "an indirect exchange of
The Egyptian-brokered truce came into effect on August 26, with the sides pledging to
resume indirect contacts within a month to pin down a lasting ceasefire and discuss crunch
issues. But the follow-up talks were delayed several times and never formally resumed. "We
are ready for an agreement. Hamas wants to solve the problems in Gaza," the source said.
But he insisted the contacts were purely informal and that there was no formal initiative
or proposal on the table.
Tuesday's report confirms an earlier report from May which said the sides were holding
secret negotiations on finding a way to deliver goods more efficiently to Gaza. Those
reports described the talks as being directly between Israel and Hamas, and taking place
in various European capitals, under the authority of Turkey.
Even as it negotiates an extension of the ceasefire, Hamas has been secretly rebuilding
its terrorist attack tunnels into Israeli territory and developing its domestic rocket
arsenal for its next attack against Israel; last summer's war was the group's third
attempt to destroy the Jewish state.
The contacts have gone through a number of Arab and European channels in a bid to firm
up an informal ceasefire agreement that took hold last August, ending a 50-day war in Gaza
started when Hamas escalated its rocket attacks on Israeli civilian centers. "We are ready
for an agreement. Hamas wants to solve the problems in Gaza," the source said. But he
insisted the contacts were purely informal and that there was no formal initiative or
proposal on the table.
The Hamas source said the discussions were about an agreement of five to 10 years, and
focused on key issues for Hamas such as ending Israel's "blockade," which has been
allowing hundreds of trucks with materials in every day, and the establishment of a sea
passage between Gaza and the outside world that Israel has firmly rejected so as to
prevent the influx of weapons certain to follow from the move. He did not say whether
other Palestinian Arab factions were involved in the talks, such as the Fatah movement of
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas which was heavily involved in the
Egyptian-brokered talks that ended the conflict.
IDF Declares 'Closed Military Zone' in Golan, Then Cancels
By DEBKAfile, IsraelNationalNews.com & YnetNews.com
The IDF on Tuesday afternoon temporarily declared a region in the north-east of the
Golan Heights near the border with Syria as a "closed military territory," but just a
short time later cancelled the closed zone opening it back up to the public. The order had
blocked access for citizens who do not live in the region, so as to allow IDF forces to
freely move in routes adjacent to the border.
"The IDF is closely following the developments in the fighting in Syria and on the
Golan Heights border," the IDF released in a statement. It added that the army "is working
to preserve the security in the area."
Despite the statement focusing on Syrian fighting, the security services stressed that
the closure of the area was meant to prevent gatherings of Israelis adjacent to the border
barrier which would interfere with ongoing routine IDF activities, and stated that the
move was not directly taken as a countermeasure to the fighting in Syria. There have been
numerous instances of "spillover" of mortar shells and machine gun fire as rebel forces,
regime forces and Islamic State (ISIS) duke it out over the border in the Syrian side of
In April, Iranian officials reportedly told the visiting Syrian defense minister to
heighten tensions against Israel and open a war front on the Golan Heights, in a bid to
further spread the regional influence of the Shi'ite Islamic regime. The call was followed
by several more "spillover" incidents.
Experts have revealed Iran is spending $35 billion a year to prop up Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad's regime, and is likewise deploying thousands of its troops in the
country. The reason for this is that Iran needs to maintain a route of access through
Syria to the Mediterranean by which it can supply weapons to Hizbullah and strengthen its
growing regional influence.
Israel's Druze community in the north has been protesting over the last week, calling
on the government to assist family and friends in Syria who face danger from advancing
Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliated militants.
IDF Chief Gadi Eisenkot said Tuesday morning, without explicitly mentioning the Druze,
that the IDF would prevent the massacre of refugees in Syria if a large number of them
fled to Israel's border. Eisenkot's comments were made at a meeting of the Knesset's
Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.
Eisenkot said that millions of refugees are in Syria and Jordan, while 1.8 million are
in Lebanon, sending demographic and economic ripples throughout the region. Therefore, he
said, the IDF is very concerned about the situation in the Golan Heights and within Syria,
particularly because of the possibility that the IDF will have to deal with refugees
arriving from Syria at the Israeli border.
The Chief of Staff brought committee members up to speed about ongoing changes in the
region, saying that without intervention by Hizbullah and Iran in Syria, the Assad would
likely fall. As of right now, he said, thousands of Hizbullah militants are fighting in
Syria, and the group is Israel's primary immediate threat. Hizbullah, said Eisenkot, armed
itself with sophisticated weapons such as unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles, rockets, and
Eisenkot also emphasized that Hizbullah is investing strength on the Syrian front and
has lost hundreds of its fighters. An estimated one hundred fighters have been killed in
the last month alone, and the organization as a whole is said to be in a dire strategic
Unique 3,000-Year Old Hebrew Inscription Found Near Jerusalem
By DEBKAfile & YnetNews.com
The name "Eshba'al Ben Bada" came to light after the fragments of a pot found at the
Hurvat Kiyafa dig at Emek Ha'Elah - led by the Hebrew University's Prof. Yosef Garfinkel
and Saar Ganor of the Antiquities Authority had been painstakingly assembled. This
and other findings at the site were presented to the public Tuesday.
The name is found in the Bible in only one period: the reign of King David. Samuel II
Ch. 3-4 refers to Eshba'al (identified as Ish-Boshet) as David's rival in Judea. His name
on a clay container attests to his having been a landowner important enough to have his
product packed in containers bearing his name.
Clearly, the early days of the Israelite kingdom saw the emergence of a much more
ordered society than once believed as well as a wealthy class. Only few Hebrew
inscriptions were found from 10th century BCE Judea until recently. But the few discovered
in the last five years revealed the existence of a kingdom run on organized lines
employing clerks and writers.
The ceramic jar, that was broken into numerous shards, was discovered in 2012 in
excavations carried out there by Garfinkel and Ganor. Letters written in ancient Canaanite
script could be discerned on several of the shards, sparking the curiosity of
Intensive restoration work conducted in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities
Authority Artifacts Treatment Department, during which hundreds of pottery shards were
glued together to form a whole jar, solved the riddle the jar bears the
inscription: Eshba'al Ben Bada'al. Dr. Mitka Golub and Dr. Haggai Misgav were among the
team of researchers involved in deciphering the text.
"This is the first time that the name Eshba'al has appeared on an ancient inscription
in the country. Eshba'al Ben Shaul, who ruled over Israel at the same time as David, is
known from the Bible. Eshba'al was murdered by assassins and decapitated and his head was
brought to David in Hebron (II Samuel, Chaps. 3-4)." Professor Yosef Garfinkel of the
Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the IAA stated. "It is
interesting to note that the name Eshba'al appears in the Bible, and now also in the
archaeological record, only during the reign of King David, in the first half of the tenth
century BCE," Garfinkel and Ganor said
Researchers suggest that Eshba'al was important, due to his prominence enough to be
inscribed on the pottery. He was apparently the owner of a large agricultural estate and
the produce collected there was packed and transported in jars that bore his name. This is
clear evidence of social stratification and the creation of an established economic class
that occurred at the time of the formation of the Kingdom of Judah.
"In II Samuel there was apparently reluctance to use the name Eshba'al, which was
reminiscent of the Canaanite storm god Ba'al, and the original name was therefore changed
to Ish-Bashat, but the original name of Eshba'al was preserved in the Book of Chronicles,"
Garfinkel and Ganor added. "Thus, for example, the name of the warlord Gideon Ben Joash
was also changed from Jerrubaal to Jerubesheth."
'Terminator' Voices Waze Directions
Drivers using the Waze application can now receive directions from none other than
Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Austrian-born actor and former California governor lent his
persona as the famed Terminator from the movie franchise to the Israeli-developed
community-based traffic and navigation app. The new feature will last through
"I'm a Terminator Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, and you're coming with me,"
Schwarzenegger says as you hit the road. According to USA Today, Schwarzenegger is using
the Waze gig to promote his next movie, "Terminator Genesis", opening July 1.
The muscular actor required a one-hour recording session to provide the automated
prompts for Waze from simple commands such as "turn left" to unforgettable quotes
such as "Hasta la vista, baby" at the end of the journey. "It is an added entertainment.
Where I come in, I'm bringing the Arnold twist," Schwarzenegger said. "Even in the
recording studio, people were laughing at every single line when I put the Arnold spin on
He added that the voice gig was sweet redemption after being told early in his career
that he could not be a leading man because of his thick accent. "Here we are 40 years
later and my accent is a big asset. When I dreamt of a career, I had no idea that one day
I would be telling 50 million drivers (where) to drive," Schwarzenegger said, adding that
he was a fan of the app and would be programming his Waze to Terminator mode.
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