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Iran threatens to shoot down U.S. planes, in latest example of aggression in the Persian Gulf

Posted by Tip Staff - September 13, 2016


Iran threatened to shoot down two American planes flying over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend, in the latest example of their increased aggression in the Persian Gulf. The American planes disregarded the warning, and eventually landed safely. “We wanted to test the Iranian reaction,” a U.S. defense official told Fox News. “It’s one thing to tell someone to get off your lawn, but we weren’t on their lawn. Anytime you threaten to shoot someone down, it’s not considered professional.”
Iran has increased its aggressiveness in the Persian Gulf since the implementation of the nuclear deal in January: there have been 31 incidents between Iranian and U.S. ships in that time period that were deemed “unsafe”, “unprofessional,” or both, which is the same amount for all of 2015. “We’ve seen an uptick in confrontations by Iranian vessels in the Arabian Gulf,” Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said last week. “Ultimately if they continue to test us we’re going to respond and we’re going to protect ourselves and our partners.”
Seven armed boats of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy swarmed a U.S. Navy patrol ship in the Persian Gulf earlier this month, forcing it to change course after the Iranians came within 100 yards and stopped their vehicles in the American ship’s path. Sailors aboard the USS Nitze recorded an encounter last month when Iranian boats came as close as 300 yards, forcing it and the USS Mason to change course to avoid a collision. Two weeks later, two U.S. patrol coastal ships, the USS Tempest and the USS Squall, were operating in international waters in the northern Gulf when IRGC boats approached them at high speed and passed within 600 yards of the Tempest three times. The Iranians ignored radio warnings that their actions were dangerous. These actions came just a few months after ten American sailors and their two boats were seized by IRGC naval forces in January of this year, in violation of international law.
In a move that may compound the issue, the IRGC Navy launched a new ship on Tuesday, draped in a banner that read “America should go to the Bay of Pigs, the Persian Gulf is our house.” “This ship increases the deterrent power of Iran and will have an effect on the calculations of the enemy, particularly America,” said IRGC naval chief Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi.


After nearly a year of negotiations, Israel and the United States have signed a record $38 billion, 10-year military aid package. 
The deal is “the single largest military assistance package—with any country—in American history,” American ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said earlier this week. The current U.S.-Israel military aid agreement, which expires in 2018, provided $3 billion per year over ten years (which didn’t include an additional $500 million added annually by Congress).
Acting Israeli National Security adviser Jacob Nagel arrived in Washington on Tuesday to finalize the deal in a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Haaretzreported. One of the final hangups in negotiations had been over funding for the development of new missile defense systems. In the end, $5 billion will be designated for such systems. In exchange, Israel has promised not to seek supplementary defense funding from Congress, except in the case of war.
Israel will also no longer be able to spend 26 percent of its aid money on Israeli military equipment. Instead, like all other recipients of American military aid, Israel will only be able to buy from American military manufacturers. This will re-inject the aid dollars back into the American economy, but will harm the Israeli defense industry, which was given a six-year phaseout period to adjust.
The deal is likely to be signed by lower-level officials, Reuters reported—heads of state do not normally attend signing ceremonies of such agreements. But both sides left open the possibility that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could meet later this month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (via TheTower.org)

When 15 students in the Engineers without Borders (EwB) chapter at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology found out that more than 600 Ethiopian schoolchildren in rural Meskele Cristos had no reliable source of water for drinking and handwashing, they volunteered to design a safe drinking-water system for the school. Built by the Israeli students and local residents over the course of two years, the system collects rainwater from the rooftop during the rainy season and stores it in a stone reservoir constructed as part of the project. The water is cleaned and treated before reaching the school’s holding tank. The Israelis formed an engineering club for older children at the school and taught them how to maintain the system and treat the water. EwB-Technion continues to provide training support and is looking into other ways to help Meskele Christos be assured of a safe and sustainable water supply. Meanwhile, the EwB-Technion Nepal group is working on a bio-sand filter to improve water quality in rural areas. Ten students from the Tel Aviv University chapter of EwB planned, designed, and built a rain-collection and purification system, and a solar-panel grid, in the village Minjingu in north Tanzania, where the drinking water was saturated with dangerously high amounts of fluoride. Since the project was finished in 2014, it has been supplying safe drinking water to more than 400 children daily. Now the chapter is raising money to connect the Minjingu medical center to the power grid, as well as expanding the water collection and purification system. (via Israel21c)


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