Coordinated attacks on Egyptian army positions in the northern Sinai Peninsula killed at least 33 security personnel on Friday, prompting the country's National Defense Council to declare a three month state of emergency in the area and triggering a broad counter-terrorism sweep that looks likely to extend into the medium-term. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi convened a meeting of senior defense advisers to discuss plans for uprooting the terrorist infrastructure in the territory, which Cairo says dramatically deepened during the one-year tenure of the country's former Muslim Brotherhood-linked President Mohammed Morsi, and which was activated after Morsi was ousted by the army. Israel-based security analyst Daniel Nisman suggested that the day's violence may prove politically problematic for the subsequently-elected Sisi government, "especially if reports are true that 3 troops [were] abducted." The attacks - one an assault on an army checkpoint and the second a car bombing - were blamed on Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a group once firmly linked to Al Qaeda that has in recent months become aligned with ISIS. Egypt's state news agency (MENA) announced that the military had launched a "large-scale combing operation," and Apache helicopters were dispatched to target Islamist fighters in towns near the Gaza Strip. Egyptian intelligence has emphasized that terror groups in that area are deeply embedded within civilian infrastructure, and that extensive military action will be needed to degrade their capabilities. The crisis has the potential to reverberate diplomatically. The Egyptian military's ability to procure counter-terrorism assets in general - and Apaches in particular - has been a source of friction between the Obama administration and Cairo since last October, when the White House cut off delivery of the helicopters in the wake of a government crackdown against the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The decision was met with a wave of criticism from domestic analysts, U.S. lawmakers, and American allies in the region, and became a proxy for broader concerns regarding Washington's willingness to side with its traditional Arab allies against Sunni and Shiite extremism. Despite promises to release the assistance the helicopters had still not been delivered as of June 2014, prompting another round of criticism at the time.
Lots of cities have free Wi-Fi, but only one – so far – has an eTree. This revolutionary ecological installation from Israel’s Sologic provides free wireless Internet, charging stations for electronic devices, nighttime lighting, and water coolers for humans and dogs – all powered by a “canopy” of solar panels. Just before the ceremonious unveiling of the very first eTree prototype, in the Ramat Hanadiv public gardens in Zichron Ya’acov, Michael Lasry of Sologic told ISRAEL21c that two more eTrees are soon to be installed, one in Nice and the other in Shanghai. “Our aim is that in the future there will be eTrees all over Israel and worldwide,” he says. “eTree is a social enterprise that aims to promote environmental awareness and sustainability, to create a link between the community environment.” Lasry even envisions global “eTree communities,” facilitated by the unit’s built-in camera and monitor allowing for give-and-take between folks sitting under the radiation-free shade of eTrees anywhere in the world. “Every tree has a monitor connected through the Wi-Fi, providing information on the energy generated by the system and geographical information about the specific site. So people sitting there in Nice can see and exchange information with people sitting at an eTree in Israel or China or anywhere else.” Locally, he’d like to see eTrees installed at points along the Israel National Trail, “because it supplies everything you need along the way.” Municipalities could purchase eTrees, and so could philanthropic organizations and corporations looking for a “green” project that provides free services and environmental awareness to the community. Lasry says that eTrees are built to withstand harsh weather conditions and are therefore appropriate for just about any urban or suburban neighborhood, corporate or college campus, park, museum, community center and other public space. “It’s like Abraham’s tent, sitting at a junction where you can enter from any side,” says Lasry, referring to the biblical forefather’s legendary tent of welcome. “It doesn’t ask you any questions; you just sit down and recharge your mobile and your soul, relax and have a cool drink.” The units need minimal ongoing care. “The only thing required for maintenance is cleaning the panels every four or five months, and the battery must be filled each year with water, though the next generation of batteries will be maintenance-free,” says Lasry. A locked concrete box protects the inner workings from weather and vandalism. “You can open it only with a key,” he says. “The whole eTree is very safe. We worked with six different engineers, including a safety engineer and a materials engineer, and the unit works on low DC voltage.” (via Israel21c)