Tag Archives: Israel

India chooses Israel over US for $525m missile deal

India has chosen to buy anti-tank guided missiles from Israel, rejecting a rival US offer, as the right-wing government clears projects worth $13.1 billion to modernize its aging military, official sources said Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will buy 8,356 Spike missiles and 321 launchers from Israel in a deal worth 32 billion rupees ($525 million), defense ministry sources told AFP.

The government is moving to speed up long-delayed defence orders and bolster its military. The Israeli deal comes after recent firing along India’s border with nuclear-armed rival Pakistan and tensions with giant neighbor China.

The procurement deals, worth 800 billion rupees ($13.1 billion) in total, were cleared at a meeting of India’s Defence Acquisition Council, headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, on Saturday.

“It (the council) has cleared a deal for Spikes,” a defence ministry official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

“It’s a fire and forget kind of missile,” the official said, referring to the fact the missile locks onto targets before firing.

“You can say there was a rival bid from the US for its Javelin missiles,” the official said, adding that India’s army trialled the Spike missiles “successfully last year”.

India, the world’s biggest arms importer, is in the midst of a $100-billion defence upgrade program and cleared proposals worth nearly $3.5 billion in June.

Nationalist leader Modi, who stormed to power at elections in May, has said India must build up its military might to the point that no other country “dare cast an evil eye” on the South Asian nation.

A series of corruption scandals under the previous government had brought defence procurement to a near standstill.

Modi and US President Barack Obama agreed on greater defence cooperation during a meeting in Washington last month, when the US reportedly lobbied for its Javelin missiles.

“The DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) took the decision based on purely technical reasons and based on hard facts. It had been on the agenda for some time,” another unnamed defence ministry official told AFP.

“The process of bringing them (equipment) here will be done over a period of time, in stages,” he added without giving details.

The council also agreed to go ahead with locally building six submarines, in collaboration with a foreign partner, in a project worth $8.2 billion, according to local media reports on Sunday.

French, Russian, German and Spanish firms are interested in partnering with India for the project, according to the Hindustan Times.

The government has raised the foreign investment cap on India’s defence industries to speed up the military’s modernization.

Twelve Dornier aircraft will also be bought for the navy and 362 infantry combat vehicles, the local reports said.

Indian soldiers were this month embroiled in days of deadly tit-for-tat firing along the border with Pakistan, while tensions were also hiked at a remote border frontier in September during a stand off with Chinese troops.

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Israel Takes Delivery of New Hi-Tech German Submarine

By on Thursday, September 25th, 2014

The Israeli military announced on Tuesday it has taken delivery from Germany of a new submarine, the most sophisticated in its fleet.

A third of the cost of the new Dolphin 2 class sub was borne by Germany as part of its military aid to the Jewish state.

“INS Tanin is the first Israeli Navy submarine that possesses air-independent propulsion, and is the fourth submarine Israel has acquired,” a statement from the military said.

The navy’s commander-in-chief, Major General Ram Rutberg, said that acquiring the new vessel means the navy “will double its capabilities, it will be able to reach further and deeper, for a longer period of time, demonstrating force unknown till this day”.

According to Israeli military experts, the country’s submarines could be used as a second strike capability in case of an Iranian attack using non-conventional weapons.

The Dolphin submarines, of which the navy already has three, can be equipped with missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel has never admitted — or denied — having a nuclear arsenal, but experts believe it has up to 200 atomic bombs and nuclear-tipped long-range missiles.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the northern port of Haifa for the submarine’s arrival, and said Israel was determined to defend all of its borders, land, air and sea.

“The threats posed by Iran and other Islamist groups oblige us to become stronger,” he said.

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Israel strikes kill dozens in Gaza as toll tops 670

By on Thursday, July 24th, 2014

An Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip killed five people on Wednesday evening, medics said, as Israel’s army announced two more soldiers had died in fighting.

Earlier, Israeli tank fire killed five people, including two children, in southern Gaza, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, as Wednesday’s body count reached at least 47 Palestinians.

A series of other strikes and shelling throughout Gaza brought the total number killed from 16 days of conflict between Israel and Hamas to 678 Palestinians, according to figures from Qudra.

Another air strike on Wednesday killed a two-year-old girl, Qudra said.

Some 32 people in Israel — two civilians, a foreign worker and 29 soldiers — have been killed during the Jewish state’s operation to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza militants and destroy Hamas tunnels.

Early on Wednesday, the military announced two soldiers had been killed in fighting the night before.

And a foreign worker, whose nationality was not immediately disclosed, died later Wednesday after being hit by a mortar round fired from Gaza, police said.

Rights groups have said that more than 80 percent of Palestinians killed have been civilians, with Gaza-based NGO the Palestinian Center for Human Rights saying more than 90 were women and more than 160 children.

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Children killed on beach as Israel resumes Gaza bombardment

Israel intensified its bombardment of Gaza Wednesday, killing four children on a beach in an apparent naval salvo and launching deadly air strikes, as regional leaders sought to end the killing.

The punishing air campaign aimed at halting cross-border rocket fire by Hamas militants resumed after Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed on Tuesday.

So far, Israel’s campaign, now in its ninth day, has killed 220 Palestinians, with a Gaza-based human rights group saying over 80 percent of them were civilians.

In the same period, militants have fired more than 1,200 rockets at Israel, which on Tuesday claimed their first Israeli life.

Hamas said it had rejected the Egyptian truce efforts because it had not been included in the discussions.

The peace initiative continued on Wednesday, however, with a Hamas official meeting Egyptian leaders as Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas arrived in Cairo to join the diplomatic efforts.

In the latest violence, four children died and several were wounded in an apparent Israeli naval bombardment of a beach in Gaza City on Wednesday afternoon, medics said.

The first strike hit at around 1300 GMT, prompting terrified children and adults on the beach to scatter. A second and third struck as they ran, setting fire to huts on the beach.

The strikes appeared to be the result of shelling by the Israeli navy against an area with small shacks used by fishermen.

Several hours later an army spokeswoman said that the military was still checking into the reports.

Several children ran inside a hotel where AFP journalists saw at least three with shrapnel injuries.

They were evacuated by ambulances, which also picked up more injured people from the beach, including a man who had part of his leg torn off.

The four bodies were later taken to Abu Hasira mosque, near where the boys had died.

The boys, all from the Bakr family, were laid out, wrapped in the yellow flags of the Fatah party, in front of mourners.

The Israeli military dropped flyers and sent text messages warning 100,000 people in northeastern Gaza to evacuate their homes ahead of an air campaign targeting “terror sites and operatives” in Zeitun and Shejaiya, two flashpoint districts east of Gaza City.

An identical message was sent to Beit Lahiya in the north, echoing a similar army warning on Sunday, when more than 17,000 residents of the north fled for their lives, most seeking refuge in UN-run schools.

Nowhere to run to
But for patients at Al-Wafa hospital in Shejaiya, many of whom are paralyzed or in a coma, the warning simply provoked even more fear.

“We cannot leave our patients, they are helpless,” director Basman Alashi told AFP, saying most of them were completely incapacitated and in no position to be moved.

“There is no place safe in Gaza. If a hospital is not safe, where is?” he said as the sound of nearby shelling rattled the windows.

The Israeli warnings appeared to have had no immediate effect, with only limited numbers seen leaving. Children picked up many of the flyers and played with them, an AFP correspondent said.

“Where should we go?” asked Faisal Hassan, a father of five who lives in Zeitun.

Hamas dismissed the warning as a scare tactic, telling residents there was “no need to worry”.

Hamas in fresh Cairo talks
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday to step up the military campaign after Hamas dismissed an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, firing scores of rockets over the border despite the army holding its fire for six hours.

“This would have been better resolved diplomatically… but Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it,” he said.

On Wednesday, his security cabinet authorized the call-up of another 8,000 reservists, media reports said, joining 43,000 reserve troops who have already been mobilized.

Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah movement, said a Hamas official was in Cairo Wednesday to hold talks with Egyptian officials.

Ahmad said he hoped the talks in Cairo would “crystallize a definite formula for an Egyptian initiative” or clarify its plan, which had proposed an end to hostilities from 0600 GMT on Tuesday.

In a joint news conference with Netanyahu in Jerusalem visiting Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said she hoped that Hamas would “revise its position and accept the proposal in the coming hours or days.”

Abbas himself later arrived in Cairo to join the diplomatic efforts and was slated to travel to Ankara on Thursday in search of regional support for an immediate end to the fighting.

Also in Cairo, Middle East peace Quartet envoy Tony Blair met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, on his second visit to the Egyptian capital in a week.

Blair told a media conference Egypt’s initiative was designed “to allow all the issues that are at the heart of this problem .. to be dealt with in a thorough and proper way.”

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Israel Requests AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Israel for AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $544 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on July 14, 2014.

The Government of Israel has requested a possible sale of up to 600 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles, 50 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles, 4 Dummy Air Training Missiles, containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor technical support services, and other related logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $544 million.

The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives and will enable the IDF to achieve those goals.

The Israeli Air Force is modernizing its fighter aircraft to better support its own air defense needs. The proposed sale of AIM-9X-2 missiles will improve the capability of the Israeli Air Force, enhance Israeli interoperability with the U.S., and help maintain regional peace and security. Israel will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of these missiles will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, Arizona. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require travel of U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Israel on a temporary basis for program technical support and management oversight.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

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World Cup fans killed as Israel raid hits Gaza cafe

It was supposed to be an evening of entertainment in Gaza, watching the World Cup semi-final at a cafe, a welcome break from 48 hours of Israeli air strikes.

But the evening was cut brutally short when an Israeli raid flattened the Fun Time Beach cafe in the southern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Thursday, killing nine people and wounding 15.

All that is left of the popular seaside cafe — where dozens broke their Ramadan fast on Wednesday night before settling down to watch Argentina play the Netherlands — is a large crater and a few mounds of sand.

The cafe’s multicolored sign is still standing, somewhat crookedly, as colorful bunting and canvas windbreakers lay strewn on the floor, torn down by the force of the blast.

The Israeli missile scattered the dead and wounded across the beach, and made a hole so deep that seawater filled it up from underground after impact.

“It was a normal social occasion,” said Wael Soboh, a local policeman who is employed by the Palestinian Authority.

“The boys ate their Ramadan iftar meal here, and then began watching the match. It is not a military area.”

Eight people were killed immediately in the blast, medical sources said, all of them residents of the nearby city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.

Bulldozers were earlier Thursday busy searching for a ninth man believed to buried underneath the soggy sand, as locals looked on in the searing midday heat.

“It’s possible the missing guy was blown to pieces,” said another local, Mohammed Astal.

Later, Gaza’s emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the body was found, raising the toll in the attack to nine.

‘Israel won 9-0′
Residents said three members of an extended family — Ahmed, Suleiman and Mussa Astal — were among the dead, with most of those killed in their 20s.

“There was a power cut in Khan Yunis, so a lot of people came here where there’s a generator and a screen,” said Mohammed al-Aqad, a resident who was at the cafe when the missile hit but was not injured.

The victims were all keen football fans, he said, as were some of the locals who were helping in the search for the missing man.

Asked who they were supporting in the World Cup, one enthusiastically replied: “Argentina, of course!”

“No, Germany,” chipped in another, though he was wearing a red England shirt.

There were no goals in Wednesday’s match, which eventually went to extra time and ended in penalties.

“And the result from this match here? The Jews won 9-0,” Ahmed al-Aqad quipped macabrely.

Israel’s operation against militants in Gaza – the deadliest violence since 2012 – entered its third day on Thursday, with the overall death toll rising to at least 78, among them women and children.

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Gaza on brink of war as Hamas rockets slam Israel

Hamas militants in Gaza fired dozens of rockets at Israel Monday, which responded with multiple air strikes in a new escalation which threatened to spiral into another a major confrontation.

It was the worst escalation in and around Gaza since November 2012, with tensions threatening to drag the region into a fresh confrontation as Israel sought to contain five days of violent clashes in Arab localities following the grisly murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.

The barrage of rocket fire was confirmed by the Israeli military which said more than 40 rockets had been fired at the south within a short period. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

“A barrage of over 40 rockets was launched from the Gaza Strip in the past hour. Seven rockets were intercepted over the city of Ashdod and five rockets were intercepted over Netivot,” an army statement said, indicating that 30 rockets had hit inside Israel.

Sirens were heard in 10 locations, including in Beit Shemesh some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Gaza Strip, a military statement said.

Around 16 struck the area around the southern city of Beersheva, 40 kilometres from Gaza. Beersheva is home to 200,000 people.

The rocket fire was claimed by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement which has its stronghold in Gaza.

“Al-Qassam fired dozens of rockets on Netivot and Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ofakim in response to the Zionist aggression,” a statement said.

“Qassam rockets are a natural reaction to the Israeli crimes against our people,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in a statement.

“We are not be afraid of your threats and will not surrender to your conditions, we will respond to your crimes.”

– ‘Green light to hit Hamas’ –

Shortly afterwards, Israeli warplanes hit more than 30 targets near the southern city of Rafah in an area close to the Israeli border which is riddled with tunnels, Palestinian witnesses and security sources told AFP.

Israel’s Channel 1 television said the attacks came after the security cabinet gave the military a green light to “toughen the response to Hamas”.

The channel also showed footage of dozens of tanks massing near the border with Gaza, preparing for a possible offensive against the enclave.

“With this barrage of rockets, Hamas has crossed the red line, and unfortunately it will pay for it,” senior officials told the private Channel 10 television.

The rocket fire came several hours after Israel staged around 16 air strikes on targets across Gaza, following a night in which warplanes attacked 14 targets, killing at least three militants, one from Hamas and two from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC).

“The Zionist enemy has opened the gates of hell on itself,” the PRC said.

Another five Hamas militants died and one was critically injured when a tunnel collapsed near Rafah, with the armed wing blaming it on an Israeli air strike.

But the Israeli army denied hitting the area, with a spokesman describing it as a work accident by militants mishandling explosives.

– Condolences to teen’s father –

The latest flare-up came a day after Israel arrested six Jewish extremists in connection with the killing of a Palestinian teenager, who was kidnapped and burnt to death in a suspected revenge crime after last month’s abduction and murder of three Israeli youths in the West Bank.

During the investigation, three of the suspects admitted to the murder in which the victim was burned alive, an official close to the investigation told AFP.

The July 2 killing sparked five days of violent clashes in annexed east Jerusalem and in Arab towns across Israel, with police arresting hundreds of people.

“Three out of six suspects in custody have confessed to the murder and burning of Mohammed Abu Khder, and performed a re-enactment of the crime,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The killing has caused shock, outrage, and no small measure of shame in Israel.

“To take a young boy, to kill him, to burn him — what for?” asked outgoing President Shimon Peres.

On Monday, both Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the teenager’s father to convey their condolences and express outrage over the murder.

“I am ashamed on behalf of my nation and grieve with you,” Peres said, while Netanyahu condemned the murder as “abhorrent”.

Overnight, the angry protests which have gripped east Jerusalem and Arab Israeli towns continued to spread, with police arresting 110 people.

Much of the violence began in the Triangle, a concentration of Arab towns and villages close to the border with the northern West Bank, but has since spread to the Galilee region as well as to the southern Negev desert.

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