Defense Secretary James Mattis met with top Israeli leaders on Friday and said that the United States "maintains absolute and unwavering commitment to Israel’s security," The Times of Israel reported.
Speaking in Tel Aviv alongside Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Mattis said that while the nuclear deal with Iran remains "in force, ... that in no way mitigates against or excuses the other Iranian activities in the region including the war in Yemen that grinds on and what they’re doing in Syria."
Mattis also emphasized that Iran threatens Israel “with ballistic missiles, through its maritime and cyber activities and through proxies and surrogates, including Lebanese Hezbollah, a terrorist organization helping to keep Assad in power in Syria.”
“I hope that with your help we will be able to overcome these threats and bring peace and stability to this region,” Liberman told Mattis, stressing that Iranian belligerence poses a danger not just Israel, but the entire world.
Mattis also met in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that "the common dangers" faced by the U.S. and Israel "are based on the twin threats of militant Islam – the Shiite extremists led by Iran and the Sunni extremists led by Daesh."
The Gaza Strip’s only power station has run out of fuel, sparking a fresh energy crisis and likely blackouts in the immediate future.
Turkey and Qatar donated three months worth of fuel in January but that supply has now been used up. The fuel shortage has reignited a longstanding disagreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) about provision of fuel to the power station.
The PA receives fuel from Israel, which it in turn sells to the power station in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Stip. Hamas has asked the PA to reduce the tax it charges for the fuel, but last week PA President Mahmoud Abbas refused the request, saying that as long as Hamas remains in control of Gaza, it should be responsible for paying the electric bill at full cost.
Fathi Sheikh Khalil, head of Hamas’ energy authority in Gaza, said that Gaza is now relying solely on supplies coming from Israel and Egypt. Israel supplies Gaza with 120 megawatts of electricity and Egypt a further 30 megawatts, leaving the Strip well short of the 400 megawatts Gaza’s energy authority claim is needed for Gaza to sustain itself.
Israel has approved both a new high-voltage power line to Gaza to operate desalination plants for clean water, as well as a natural gas pipeline for electricity, but this will take several years to implement.
U.S.-Israeli team finds better way to keep drinking water virus-free
Israeli and American scientists have jointly developed a way to dramatically improve the removal of viruses from treated wastewater used for drinking.
Currently, the membrane used to remove viruses in non-chemical water filtration systems requires large amounts of energy. To solve this inefficiency, the researchers developed a special hydrogel coating that can be applied to the filtering membrane. This gel repels viruses in the water and prevents them from either approaching or passing through the filtration system.
“This is an urgent matter of public safety,” Prof. Moshe Herzberg of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Prof. Nguyen Thanh H. Nguyen of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the research team, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Insufficient removal of human Adenovirus in municipal wastewater, for example, has been detected as a contaminant in U.S. drinking water sources, including the Great Lakes and worldwide.”
Ready for a really yucky statistic? Sixty percent of the 6.8 million liters of daily sewage sludge generated in Brazil gets dumped back into nature untreated. And even that is a big improvement over the situation five years ago.
Now the South American country is poised to clean up its sewage problem using an Israeli invention for transforming human waste into odor-free, sterilized farm fertilizer.
Incorporated in February, Lodologic was established by a group of Brazilian companies in partnership with Paulee CleanTec in Israel. (“Lodo” means “sludge” in Portuguese.)
“Paulee CleanTec has a proprietary process to oxidate organic residue. We’re going to apply that process to sludge,” Lodologic CEO Gabriel Kainuma tells ISRAEL21c from his office in Sao Paulo.
“We mix a chemical reagent with the sludge and blend this mix in a high-speed chamber that eliminates all pathogens in the sludge, transforming it into safe, affordable, effective fertilizer,” he says.
“By 2018 we expect to be operating in at least six plants. There are over 400 sewage treatment plants in Brazil, so we have a huge market here to explore.”
Sludge (biosolids) is a byproduct of sewage treatment plants — the waste removed from wastewater. While the treated water can be safely discharged to waterways or reused for other purposes, sludge has to be disposed of or treated separately onsite. An environmentally friendly option is composting, but this takes a lot of time and space. And it smells bad.
“Decades ago, when sewage treatment was only taking its first steps, sludge was dumped into international waters,” Paulee CleanTec CEO Ilan Levy tells ISRAEL21c.
In many Latin American countries, he says, dumping sludge into the ocean still is standard practice, and even happens unintentionally in places such as California when heavy rain causes sewage systems to overflow.
“Nobody knows what to do with the enormous amount of sludge generated every day,” says Levy. “The general solution is to send it to landfills. We are changing the logic by turning sludge into something of value.”