Four Palestinians were killed in a collapsed underground tunnel connecting the Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Gazan officials reported on Sunday. The officials claimed that the collapse was due to flooding of the tunnel by the Egyptian military. While Egypt has not confirmed this report, the Egyptian military has demolished and flooded underground tunnels along the Gaza border to prevent the terrorist group Hamas from smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip. The incident is the latest in a series of tunnel collapses that have killed and injured Palestinian militants.
A Hamas operative who was captured in June after illegally crossing into Israel revealed that the terrorist group’s fighters can travel underground throughout the entirety of Gaza. According to the Jerusalem Post, “Hamas is said to be digging 10 kilometers of tunnels toward Israel each month.” Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters in May that the discovery of the tunnels was a sign that Hamas was preparing for another war against Israel.
Regional analysts have said that Israeli-Egyptian relations are at their “highest level in history”: there has been significant security cooperation due to mutual concerns, such as the extensive coordination between Hamas and Sinai Province, an ISIS affiliate active in the Sinai Peninsula. Hamas finances ISIS operations, trains its fighters in planting deadly IEDs and firing anti-tank missiles, and smuggles weaponry across the border from the Gaza Strip into Sinai.
Egypt and Israel have also upped formal diplomatic ties, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visiting Jerusalem in July to offer his government’s assistance in restarting peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. A month later, Shoukry defended Israeli policies to a group of high school students in Cairo.
Egypt has similarly agreed to cooperate with Israel on pragmatic issues such as desalinization and recycling, and introduced a ninth-grade textbook this spring that casts Israeli-Egyptian peace in a more positive light than previous editions. The textbook asks students to memorize the terms of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 and explain the “advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states.”
Documents containing previously-unpublished details of the nuclear deal with Iran could be released after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president next month, The Daily Beast reported Monday. The documents, which the Obama administration has refused to release publicly, are stored in special rooms in the Capitol complex called Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities (SCIFs) that are normally used for storing top-secret information. However, the Iran documents are not officially designated as classified, and therefore could be released by the Trump administration relatively easily.
The documents include projections of how Iran’s nuclear program is expected to progress under the terms of the deal, communications about the deal between Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers, and exemptions given to Iran by the commission that was created to oversee the deal’s implementation. Also included are a set of documents signed by State Department official Brett McGurk that outline the terms of the U.S. Treasury Department’s release of $1.7 billion to Iran in exchange for four American hostages.
Despite the fact that the documents are not classified, “a confidential clearance was required to see the McGurk documents and a secret classification was required to view the joint commission documents in the Congressional SCIFs,” The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak wrote. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a leading Democratic critic of the deal, told Mak that the documents “ought to be released.”
Numerous aspects of the nuclear deal with Iran have been surrounded by secrecy, a point highlighted last week by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide more details of Iran’s nuclear program so that Iran’s compliance with the deal could be confirmed. Peters’s concerns about the IAEA’s lack of details echoed statements made in recent weeks by former IAEA deputy director-general Olli Heinonen.
Hailing a “new phase” in bilateral ties, Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey on Monday handed his letter of credence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, moving forward on the countries’ reconciliation. Eitan Na’eh is Israel’s first ambassador in Ankara in half a decade. Before he was greeted by Erdoğan in the Presidential Palace for a short ceremony, a military band played Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva.
“I am very happy to be back in Turkey as ambassador. We have a lot of work to do,”Na’eh told reporters at the airport. “I want to thank Turkey for the support, the aid it sent Israel fighting fires last week. We have a history of helping each other.” Turkey was among several nations that sent planes and other equipment to help Israel extinguish over 1,000 wildfires which burned more than 500 homes and 32,000 acres of forests and national parks.
Turkish-Israeli ties had been strained since the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when a flotilla under the control of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation—a group designated as a terror organization by the Netherlands and Germany—attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. IDF troops faced an “organized and violent” assault from a group of passengers after boarding the ship, according to a UN report. Ten crew members were killed in the ensuing fight, and several Israeli soldiers were injured.
After the reconciliation agreement was reached, Israeli leaders noted the significant economic potential of closer ties. “Trade between Israel and Turkey has more than doubled from the Marmara event up until today,” said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, adding that the deal will bolster that growth with “joint projects in government level. People are speaking about gas and there are other issues that might emerge.”
Twelve people who work in the Iranian fashion industry were sentenced to up to six years in prison for “spreading prostitution,” the BBC reported Monday.
The twelve were convicted of spreading prostitution and promoting corruption by publishing images online that were considered obscene. They also were charged with causing Muslims to corrupt themselves by producing fashion shows and promoting a “Western-style culture of nudity.”
A lawyer involved in the case said that his clients were also banned from working in fashion or traveling abroad for two years. Some were also banned from photography or journalism.
Iranian authorities have been cracking down on “un-Islamic” behavior recently, especially by models and others who work in the fashion industry. In May, authorities arrested eight models who posted pictures of themselves on Instagram without head coverings. In July, police prevented a fashion show at the opening of a Levi’s store at a Tehran mall.
The crackdown has extended to people who work in other sectors. Over 30 Iranian students were given lashes earlier this year for dancing at a co-ed graduation party in the city of Qazvin. And a Tehran soccer player was arrested in June and suspended from playing soccer for six months for wearing SpongeBob SquarePants-themed pants.
In October 2015, two Iranian poets were sentenced to jail and 99 lashes each for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex, and reports surfaced the following month that Iranian actress Sadaf Taherian was forced to flee the country after she posted pictures of herself with her hair uncovered on social media.