President Barack Obama on Wednesday reemphasized what has in the last week become a central administration position on the unfolding Israel-Gaza crisis, insisting that the Israelis had a right to engage in self-defense - the President's exact language was "there's no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets" - and also noting that Jerusalem has made repeated efforts to deescalate the conflict. Obama more specifically remarked that "yesterday Israel did agree to a cease-fire. Unfortunately, Hamas continued to fire rockets at civilians, thereby prolonging the conflict," gesturing toward a six-hour period during which Israel followed the terms of an Egyptian ceasefire and withheld fire, while Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip launched roughly 50 missiles at population centers inside the Jewish state. Some of the rocket barrages over the course of the day were jointly claimed by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with claims of responsibility suggesting that the two terror groups were cooperating. Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday conveyed what the outlet characterized as the consensus of analysts, who converged on the assessment that Hamas's rejection of the truce had 'set the scene for a much broader operation in Gaza.' The outlet cited a range of Israeli journalists and observers on the point, including Israel Hayom's Yoav Limor, who comments that "in the eyes of the world, Israel took a risk and gave a real chance to a ceasefire, while Hamas chose to continue fighting," the result being that the Israelis would now have more latitude to pursue robust self-defense measures against Hamas.
Journalists on Wednesday pressed White House and State Department spokespeople on a set of commitments - made months ago to lawmakers and reporters – in which top administration officials defended nuclear negotiations with Iran by insisting that if talks failed they would cooperate with Congress in imposing new sanctions on Tehran. Ed Henry - Fox News’s chief White House correspondent - asked White House spokesperson John Earnest if President Obama would “push forward as soon as next week on new sanctions against Iran” if a deal was not inked, declaring that that “that’s how [the administration] got Congress to get off your back six months ago,” The reference was to previous statements made by then-White House spokesperson Jay Carney, in which Carney had indicated that a failure to close a deal within six months would trigger administrative calls for new pressure on the Islamic republic. A similar scene played out at the State Department’s daily briefing, with Fox News producer Lucas Tomlinson pressing spokesperson Jen Psaki on statements she made shortly after an interim deal with Iran was announced: “Eight months ago, you said from that podium, ‘If the Iranians don’t get to a yes at the end of six months, we can put in place more sanctions.’ Is that not the case anymore?” Tomlinson repeatedly attempted to clarify Psaki’s response, which involved statements reiterating the administration’s public commitment to preventing Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition. Congress has for months pushed for a greater role in talks with Tehran, and the end of the six-month interim period has refocused attention on discussions over Congress’s role in negotiations. Negotiators from Iran and the P5+1 global powers are in the process of finalizing the terms of what Reuters called “a likely extension” in talks over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program, and diplomats speaking to the Associated Press (AP) said they expected talks to end even before July 20 because, per the AP, “significant differences won't be bridged by Sunday.”
The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee on Tuesday approved legislation that would among other things double U.S. aid for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, deepening military ties between Washington and Jerusalem. The bill provides $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense, including $351 for Iron Dome, which has proven critical in recent weeks as Hamas has fired upwards of 1,200 rockets at Israel since the beginning of the month. The bill’s approval comes a day after the release of a new national survey by Paragon Insights, which found substantial American support for Jerusalem’s actions – nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of 1,951 likely voters surveyed between July 10-13 responded that “Israel has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens from Hamas’ rocket fire directed at Israeli civilians through the use of military force.” Rocket attacks emanating from Syria, Lebanon, and controlled Sinai Peninsula have put all of Israel under threat of rocket attack and necessitated the defense system’s use. Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s Iron Dome – which has a success rate of roughly 90 percent, up from 85 percent during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 – has intercepted more than 145 rockets fired out of Gaza, preventing strikes in major Israeli population centers. The financing for Iron Dome’s research came from the Israeli government, but the production of its batteries is financed by the Pentagon. ned that modified battlefield versions of Iron Dome could be deployed in support of U.S. soldiers, and the platform will likely be also used to defend U.S. allies like South Korea and Singapore.
The cyber war between the IDF and Hamas has seen dozens of messages on Twitter feeds, via Flickr and on YouTube. Now, for the first time, Hamas hackers opted to attack the Israeli audience by launching personal threatening social media campaigns. It hasn’t turned out quite the way the hackers would have wanted. Hackers identifying with Hamas have sent threatening text messages to Israeli mobile phone numbers, via Twitter and on Facebook feeds. The problem: The Hebrew grammar and spelling are riddled with errors. Instead of causing fear – as intended – Israelis have reposted the messages with corrections and tips on how to better construct a threatening message. Earlier this week, Hamas hackers overtook the Domino’s Pizza Israel Facebook page, posting threatening messages against Israelis. They didn’t know Israelis have been punching out jokes at a quick pace. Hamas hackers wrote: “Today will strike deep in Israel, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Ashdod more than 2000 rockets. We’ll start at 7. Counting back towards the end of Israel … Be warned!” An Israeli response read: “Hey, please reserve a missile for me with jalapenos, green olives, extra cheese, and mushrooms. You have my address. Tell the delivery boy to activate the alarm when it is arriving, so I know to put my pants on.” hamas pizza When the site was returned to its rightful ownership, Domino’s posted a photo of a Hamas terrorist with this text: “You cannot defeat….The Israeli hunger for pizza!” Hamas also posted a music video showing how it plans to destroy Israel on YouTube. The comment section is filled with Israelis saying the video has become a hit choice for listening in the bomb shelters. (via Israel21c)
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