Egyptian army begins flooding Gaza tunnels El-Sissi moves ahead with plan designed to thwart Hamas weapons smuggling, terrorism By Tamar Pileggi September 18, 2015, 10:16 pm
Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on September 18, 2015. (Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90) Writers Tamar Pileggi Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.
Palestinian security officials told the German news agency DPA the operation was part of an effort to stop cross-border smuggling by Islamist militants to and from the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
According to the report, large pipes extending from the Mediterranean Sea flooded the Sinai-Gaza border area with sea water, enabling Egyptian officials to destroy the tunnels without having to know their exact locations.
Officials announced last month that the area would be flooded and would eventually be converted into 18 fish farms along the 14-kilometer border with Gaza, making the digging of new underground tunnels impossible.
An Egyptian tank is seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt September 18, 2015. According to Palestinian witnesses, Egyptian forces pumped water from the Mediterranean Sea through pipes to destroy smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border. (Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Since the 2007, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has been subject to a blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel, designed in part to prevent the terror group importing weaponry. Egypt has also been concerned by cooperation between Hamas and Sinai-based terror groups, and the passage of Hamas terrorists via the tunnels to training camps in Iran and elsewhere in the region.
The Sinai Peninsula is a bastion of the jihadist group Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. The organization has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
In this picture provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, second left, greets members of the Egyptian armed forces in Northern Sinai, Egypt, Saturday, July 4, 2015.(Egyptian Presidency /Mohammed Abdel-Muati via AP)
Following a spate of attacks on Egypt’s security forces in the last year, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has taken an increasingly hard line against the growing presence of insurgents in the Egyptian territory, and established a buffer zone along its Gaza border.
An Islamist terror group committed to destroying Israel, Hamas has accused Sissi of collaborating with Israel.
Up until a number of years ago, Egypt tolerated a smuggling industry, allowing hundreds of tunnels to bring in goods like cigarettes and spare motorbike parts, as well as weapons, into Gaza. These tunnels were a lifeline for Hamas, which collected millions of dollars in taxes and revenues from the smuggled goods. They continued to thrive after longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 and the Islamist Mohammed Morsi won the country’s first free presidential election.
But the violence has continued. In July, Islamic State-linked militants struck Egyptian army outposts in a coordinated wave of suicide bombings and battles. And last month, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State group beheaded a young Croatian there who was working for a French company.
On Sunday, Egyptian security forces killed 12 people, including a number of Mexican tourists, after mistakenly targeting their vehicles while chasing jihadists in the Sinai.
Rare 1,800-Year-Old Sarcophagus Discovered in Ashkelon, Israel Bible and archaeology news Olivia Chapman • 09/13/2015
A rare 1,800-year-old sarcophagus was recently exposed in Ashkelon, Israel. Photo: Yoli Schwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
A unique 1,800-year-old sarcophagus was recently unearthed at a construction site in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon in Israel. Workers at the site reportedly discovered the sarcophagus more than a week before officials from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) were alerted to the find. To avoid any delays, the contractors dug out the sarcophagus with a tractor and buried it underneath piles of boards and sheet metal. They then filled in the area with concrete to hide the ancient site. Due to this negligence, the exceptional limestone coffin is now irreparably damaged. The hasty excavation-by-tractor severely scarred the lid and the decorations sculpted on the sides. As a result, the IAA will take legal action against those involved. If convicted for failing to report the discovery and damaging an ancient site, the workers could face up to five years imprisonment.
As Amir Ganor, head of the Inspection Department at the IAA, explained in an IAA press release, “This is an extremely serious case of damage to a rare antiquity of unprecedented artistic, historical and cultural importance.”
Weighing around 2 tons and measuring about 8 feet long, the sizeable sarcophagus is sculpted on all sides with images of wreaths, bulls’ heads and naked cupids. The head of the serpent-haired Medusa appears on one end of the coffin. The head of Medusa was carved on one end of the sarcophagus.
Photo: Yoli Schwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
A life-size male figure is carved on the lid. Dressed in an embroidered shirt and tunic, the figure—possibly an image of the deceased—wears his hair curled in a typical Roman hairstyle. The figure’s eyes were apparently once inlaid with precious stones, which are no longer there.
According to Dr. Gabi Mazor, a retired IAA archaeologist who inspected the find, “The high level of decoration [attests] to the family’s affluence … [J]udging by the depicted motifs, [the family] was probably not Jewish.”
Olivia Chapman is an intern at the Biblical Archaeology Society.
"We were waiting for something to happen, someone with enough sense to come on the wireless and tell us once and for all that 'hostilities' had been canceled, that our talk about the Nazis and their practices as a self-proclaimed master race was misinformation. We were waiting to hear that our men and women who were already over there could pack up their uniforms and their various lucky charms and come on back home---that we could stuff sandwiches, best wishes, and caramels into our refugees' pockets, their satchels, and their worn-out handbags, and send them forever back where they belonged."
From Barren Desert To Top Cyber Center, Beersheba Is Turning Into A High Tech Oasis By Eunice Lim, NoCamels September 09, 2015 0 Comments Just four decades ago, a visit to the southern desert city of Beersheba in Israel would have shown a barren landscape, with mostly sand and camels in sight. In recent years, however, the city has been undergoing a near-miraculous transformation and is now gaining a new reputation for itself.
Those looking for an explanation need look no further than the $1 billion Gav-Yam Negev Advanced Technologies Park (ATP) – a massive joint project to revitalize the Negev Desert by making it an major hot spot in the rise of the Startup Nation. The project is a joint effort by the State of Israel, the Beersheba municipality, Ben-Gurion University and KUD International, a consortium of US and Japanese investors.
SEE ALSO: The 10 Hottest Israeli Startups
This unique office park, currently occupied by top-tier cyber-security and communication companies, will include some 20 buildings upon completion, making it one of the largest startup ecosystems in the country.
It’s no wonder foreign investors are looking to Beersheba for exciting new opportunities. Earlier this year, T3 Advisors and Brandeis’ International School singled out Beersheba as one of the seven “cities of tomorrow” that global companies should consider when planning their global expansion.
“Traditionally, the Negev has been considered the periphery of Israel, off the beaten track, but Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion always talked about the importance of the Negev and how it holds the key to Israel’s great future,” Faye Bittker, a spokeswoman for Ben-Gurion University, the top university located in Beersheba, tells NoCamels. “And with this project, we’re seeing that vision come to life.”
SEE ALSO: Cyber Security Nation
The new park is also home to Jerusalem Venture Partners’ Cyber Labs incubator, which has identified and supported several cyber-security startups since it launched in Beersheba last year, with already one successful exit: The acquisition of its portfolio startup CyActive by online payment giant PayPal for $60 million earlier this year.
A bridge above the railroad and train station adjacent to Beersheba’s Tech Park
1,300 employees – and growing
Roughly 1,300 people currently work at the 35 companies operating out of the park’s two buildings, and construction for the third high-rise building is well underway. Gav-Yam’s Roy Zwebner, the park’s general director, estimates that the construction of the park (15-20 buildings in total) will be completed in the next decade, opening up space for additional firms and labs, as well as Ben-Gurion University’s centers of excellence. Among the companies that recently opened offices in the park are such giants as Oracle, Deutsche Telekom and Mellanox.
Gilad Peleg, the CEO of SecBI – a JVP-funded startup that is creating a platform to investigate and mitigate security incidents for clients – shares what it’s like to work at the ATP. “When my father-in-law moved to Beersheba some 50 years ago, there was no infrastructure, nothing here,” he tells NoCamels. “Today, it’s like a different country. Now I can say that Beersheba is the cyber capital of Israel and soon the world. If you look outside, you see these huge names like Lockheed Martin and EMC here. This is becoming a high-tech hub where market leaders want to be.”
A new cyber ecosystem is born
It would be a stretch to claim that one high-tech park on its own could transform an entire city. And indeed, the tech park is just one piece, albeit a crucial one, in a larger cyber-conducive ecosystem.
Another huge player in the building of Israel’s “cyber capital” is the Israeli Defense Forces, which is moving its technology units out of the Tel Aviv area and into Beersheba. An estimated 20,000 soldiers will be relocated to the south by 2021, and technology and communications infrastructure as well as data and information centers will be built right next to Ben-Gurion University to accommodate the huge move.
The move is a cause for celebration for the firms and startups at the ATP that are interested in hiring the talented, tech-savvy, intelligence-unit soldiers upon discharge, and is grabbing the attention of other multinational investors who also want first dibs on the best cyber talent pool.
The third vital player in the ecosystem is Ben-Gurion University, which was established in 1969 as part of a national initiative to develop the Negev Desert region and is today leading the innovative research on software and cyber security.
BGU was on board from the start when talks for the ATP were first initiated, and is one of the main investors, holding a 22 percent stake in the project. “We’re hoping to repeat the success of Silicon Valley – where a university [Stanford] was the major facilitator of the valley’s revolution, generating industry and bringing in jobs –and we’re definitely on the right track with this partnership,” Bittker says. “The opportunities that the ATP has to offer will be a huge incentive for our graduates to stay in Southern Israel.”
Put together, all of these pieces make for an unprecedented ecosystem that is putting Beersheba at the forefront of the cyber field. “The ATP is offering high-profile jobs that pay just as well as those in the more central cities,” Zwebner says. “Beersheba is really becoming the place to be.”
“There is something special about the fact that this park is a growing entity, and that we are still shaping it together,” says Guy Moskowitz, the CEO and founder of CoroNet, a JVP-funded startup that develops software to detect if a mobile device is connecting to fake or malicious cellular/Wi-Fi networks.
Beersheba’s transformation from a barren land of sand and camels into a cyber-security powerhouse is a source of pride for ATP’s partners. “This project is a confluence of completely different organizations and interests trying to make something happen,” Bittker says. “We feel like we’re making a positive difference, and the economic impact of this park is already visible.”
Wilderness Wanderings: Where is Kadesh? Kadesh in the Bible and on the ground Robin Ngo • 09/14/2015
“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-Barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him an honest report.”
KADESH IN THE BIBLE. In the Hebrew Bible, a place called Kadesh—also known as Kadesh-Barnea—was an important stop during the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings. Where is Kadesh? The site of Tell el-Qudeirat in the northeastern part of the Sinai Peninsula is considered to be the best candidate. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.
According to the Bible, the Israelites stayed at a place called Kadesh following their Exodus from Egypt and wanderings through the desert. Kadesh—also called Kadesh-Barnea in some Biblical passages1—was where Moses’ sister Miriam died and was buried (Numbers 20:1) and from where Moses sent 12 men to spy out the Promised Land (Numbers 13:26). Where is Kadesh-Barnea? Investigations since the early 19th century have attempted to find the site. Tell el-Qudeirat, located in the valley of the Wadi el-Ein in the northeastern part of the Sinai Peninsula, is the best candidate for Biblical Kadesh-Barnea, according to scholarly consensus today.
Excavations conducted at Tell el-Qudeirat and its surroundings in 1914 by Leonard Woolley and T.E. Lawrence and between 1976 and 1982 by Rudolph Cohen have revealed the ruins of three Iron Age (Israelite) fortresses. However, the archaeologists uncovered no evidence dating before the 10th century B.C.E.—the time of King Solomon. There appears to be no evidence, therefore, that Tell el-Qudeirat was occupied during the time of Moses and the Biblical Exodus.2 What do we make of this?
In “Kadesh-Barnea—In the Bible and on the Ground” in the September/October 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, David Ussishkin, Lily Singer-Avitz and Hershel Shanks explore the archaeological evidence uncovered at Tell el-Qudeirat. An analysis of the finds—especially the pottery—from the Iron Age ruins sheds new light on the identification of Tell el-Qudeirat with Kadesh in the Bible.
In the free eBook Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus, top scholars discuss the historical Israelites in Egypt and archaeological evidence for and against the historicity of the Exodus.
Fragments of Qurayyah Painted Ware discovered at Tell el-Qudeirat suggest that there was a presence at the site—believed to be Biblical Kadesh-Barnea—during the time of Moses and the Biblical Exodus. Pictured is a restored Qurayyah jug from Timna, Israel. Photo: Eretz Israel Museum.
BAR coauthor Lily Singer-Avitz suggests that several finds discovered in the later strata, including Egyptian-style seals and seal impressions and local pottery sherds, should be associated with a Late Bronze Age–Early Iron I period presence at Tell el-Qudeirat. Particularly important are the sherds belonging to what is called Qurayyah Painted Ware found in different strata throughout the site. As Singer-Avitz argues: The Qurayyah Painted Ware was in use during the latter part of the Late Bronze and the Iron I periods, from the 12th to the 11th centuries B.C.E., about the time of the Exodus from Egypt according to those who attribute some historicity to this central Biblical event.
Learn more about Qurayyah Painted Ware and its importance to the site of Tell el-Qudeirat— Kadesh in the Bible—by reading the full article “Kadesh-Barnea—In the Bible and on the Ground” by David Ussishkin, Lily Singer-Avitz and Hershel Shanks in the September/October 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
Notes: 1. The name Kadesh-Barnea in Hebrew is qādeš barnēa‘. The Hebrew root qdš means “holiness,” “separateness”; the meaning of the second word is not known. See Dale W. Manor, “Kadesh-Barnea,” in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 4 (New York: Doubleday, 1992), p. 1.
2. Rudolph Cohen, “Did I Excavate Kadesh-Barnea?” Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1981; Rudolph Cohen, “Qadesh-Barnea,” in Eric M. Meyers, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, vol. 4 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 365–367.
<a href="http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/celebrate-international-literacy-day/" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.grammarly.com
Author Batya Casper.