Water, water everywhere. Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a water cooperation agreement on Sunday, the fourth major infrastructure deal agreed to in the past year and a half.
The agreement, which will restart the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee, was signed by Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office, and Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister.
The committee is charged with modernizing the water infrastructure in the West Bank, giving Palestinian villages and towns better access to water.
The committee originally had been created as a temporary measure by the Oslo II interim agreement in 1995, and was supposed to be operate for five years. It last met six years ago. The agreement was signed in the winter so that the committee can be fully operational by summer, the dry season. The two sides have also agreed on a joint strategic planning mechanism that will govern water resources until 2040 and meet the needs of the growing population.
The water agreement showed that it is possible to arrive at “understandings and agreements when dealing with practical, bilateral issues, free of external influences, dealing with natural resources and other infrastructure issues that affect the entire population,” Mordechai said.
The other infrastructure agreements signed by Israel and the PA in the past year and a half govern electricity, mail, and 3G phone service.
Goodbye Ebola. On a state visit to Israel last week for the first time in his nation’s history, the president of the Muslim-majority West African nation of Sierra Leone expressed his gratitude to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin for the Jewish state’s assistance in fighting the Ebola virus.
“I must use this opportunity to thank you, the Government and the people of Israel, for the support that was provided to us during one of the most difficult moments in our history – the fight against Ebola,” President Ernest Bai Koroma said last Thursday at a joint appearance with Rivlin. “It was a moment others chose to turn their backs and isolate us, but Israel provided us with support, with financial, technical support, and we had people that volunteered to go out and assist us….That we have put the Ebola behind us is because of the support of this nation. Support that will always be remembered by Sierra Leoneans.”
“It is only a friend will support a friend that is in need,” Koroma added during his public meeting with Netanyahu. “And the Sierra Leonean people are most grateful for that.”
During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Israel sent doctors and a field hospital to Sierra Leone to help the African nation fight the deadly disease and contributed $10 million to an aid fund—the sixth-largest contribution in the world.
Israeli security forces arrested 17 Palestinians, including 13 suspected Hamas operatives suspected of laying the ground for a terrorist infrastructure, in overnight raids in the West Bank Sunday. The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet discovered and confiscated thousands of shekels meant to be delivered into the hands of terrorist groups. The security forces also found a gun workshop north of Hebron; more than 40 such workshops have been discovered in recent months, and more than 420 weapons confiscated. These workshops, The Times of Israel noted, “manufactured guns such as those used in the Sarona Market shooting attack in Tel Aviv” last June, which killed four people and wounded several others.
The Jerusalem Post reported that “an extensive Hamas infrastructure operating in the Ramallah sector and the West Bank’s Binyamin region was discovered, including the headquarters of the terrorist group in the region.” The Shin Bet announced, “The uncovering of the infrastructure indicates the continued strategic intentions of Hamas to operate and establish its presence on the ground [in the West Bank], in an attempt to topple the Palestinian Authority.”
Within the past few months, the Shin Bet busted a Hamas cell, consisting of more than 20 members, that was planning to carry out suicide bombings and shooting attacks in Jerusalem, Haifa, and elsewhere in Israel. In December, the Shin Bet announced the arrest of a seven-man Hamas cell in the West Bank, which was planning to kidnap an Israeli soldier in order to negotiate the release of a convicted terrorist. The terrorist in question, Ibrahim Abdallah Ranimat, 58, orchestrated the kidnapping and murder of IDF soldier Sharon Edri in 1996, as well as a suicide bombing attack on a Tel Aviv cafe in 1997, which claimed the lives of three women and wounded 48 others.
Israeli zookeepers at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv – Ramat Gan Safari nursed a baby mandrill back to life and his mother was only too pleased to snuggle him in her arms. The latest member of the mandrill group at the Israeli zoo was born on January 9 and found by zookeepers in an overnight enclosure that Tinkerbell, the mother, shared with her other son, Tuvia. The small, weak newborn was trying to cling to his 13-year-old mother’s belly but was instead being dragged behind. The zookeepers say they watched the mandrill and Tinkerbell attempt numerous times to connect without success. Mandrill babies must cling to the hair of the mother’s chest and be supported by her hand for the first two to three weeks of their lives, reports the Safari. The species is considered vulnerable in the wild. (via Israel21c)