Dempsey visits Israel amid regional tensions

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Posted on: 
20 Jan 2012
Dempsey visits Israel amid regional tensions

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff visited IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on Friday morning as a guest of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, following an informal dinner the previous evening with the generals’ wives. Dempsey had a full schedule, meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. Although many topics were no doubt discussed during the meetings, Iran was widely believed to be at the top of the list, as recent public statements have revealed a sharp disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem on the best way to confront the Islamic Republic’s renegade nuclear program. Dempsey’s trip was seen by many observers as an effort to reassure Israel as well as extract a promise not to attack Iran without coordinating with the US. Dempsey will also visit the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum before departing Israel in the early evening.

Netanyahu meets with Righteous gentile in Holland
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued his highly successful trip to Holland by meeting with several senior government officials on Thursday, as well as visiting a local synagogue and meeting with Dutch Righteous of the Nations Prof. Johan van Hulst, who saved hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust. Netanyahu presented van Hulst with a Bible and told him;  "It is said that whoever saves a single life it as if he saved the whole world, and you saved hundreds.  On behalf of the Jewish People and all of humanity, I would like to thank you."  Van Hulst thanked the Prime Minister for the Bible, adding that he often studied it. Netanyahu replied, "I work six days a week and my Sabbath joy is to study the Bible."

Iranian crackdown intensifies ahead of elections
Iranian security forces have recently engaged in a fierce crackdown on journalists, including popular blogger Parastou Dokouhaki, who was arrested on January 16 and sent to the infamous Evin prison on the charge of “acting against Iran's national security” which is routinely leveled against political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in the Islamic republic. Several other well known journalists were rounded up in subsequent days, along with prominent intellectuals and activists. "Any type of activities that deals with informing others, can be one of the reason for the arrest -- in some cases [it appears] that there has been no reason for the arrest," Reza Moini of Reporters Without Borders, told  Radio Free Europe.

Finnish air chief visits Israel
The longstanding friendship between Israel and Finland was reaffirmed this week when Lt. Gen. Jarmo Lindberg, commander of the Finnish Air Force, arrived with a delegation from his country to visit the Ramat David airbase. Gen. Lindberg received detailed briefings and joined a pilot from the base for a flight in an F-16. “This visit is very important to us," said Ramat David base commander, Col. Nir. "The spotlight on our capabilities is beneficial for the nation, because it exposes the challenges we face while revealing the Israeli Air Force’s impressive capabilities.”

UK museum rejects call to boycott Israel
In a stinging rebuke to efforts to isolate Israel, the UK’s Natural History Museum in West London on Thursday rejected a demand by a group of scientists to terminate its cooperation with Ahava, the world famous Israeli skin-care products manufacturer. The demand was published in an open letter in Tuesday’s Independent newspaper. Prof. Ian Owens, the museum’s director of science, firmly declared that the museum will disregard any boycott calls. “We work within the legal and policy boundaries established by politicians and policy makers, and would not participate in any academic or educational boycotts that could restrict academic freedom,” he said.

Hamas parliamentarian arrested
The IDF on Thursday arrested senior Hamas official, Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Authority parliament, on suspicion of involvement with terrorist groups on Thursday. The incident follows a meeting Hamas chief Khaled Mishaal had with the Swiss Middle East envoy in Cairo late on Wednesday as part of efforts to normalize relations with European governments. The Hamas delegation stressed "the importance of Europe being open to the movement and the need to end the bias against one Palestinian side in favour of the other", according to a Hamas spokesman.

Israel continues to help Palestinians despite politics
Despite political tensions that at times threaten to boil over, cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians in the field of medicine continues to advance. Nearly 115,000 Palestinian patients were treated at Israeli hospitals in 2011, and over 100 Palestinian doctors interned at Israeli hospitals. "Every year more patients are sent to Israeli hospitals," said Civil Administration Health Coordinator, Mrs. Dalia Bassa. "We hope to train Palestinian doctors and improve Palestinian medicine, strengthening cooperation. Health is a separate issue, Israeli and Palestinian doctors are friends, making medicine a bridge for peace." In related news, the IDF reported on Frieday that during the month of December, 4,373 trucks carrying 139,678 tons of goods including food, medicine, construction material, clothing and other goods entered the Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

For a report on all the supplies Israel sends into Gaza every month, click HERE (PDF)


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