The White House has suspended a shipment of missiles to Israel

325px-WhiteHouseSouthFacadeA senior Israeli official confirmed to Israeli media that the US had suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel amid worsening ties over fighting in Gaza.

The decision to hold off on the transfer was most likely on grounds of increased diplomatic tension, the official said, corroborating a Wall Street Journal report earlier in the day that claimed the White House and State Department had been angered by a transfer of arms to Israel and had ordered greater oversight into future sales.

The report claimed that US-Israeli tensions are at a record high, with US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to hold a “particularly combative phone call on Wednesday” and officials on both sides resorting to name-calling. Read more at The Times of Israel.

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Solidarity rally draws more than 3,000

us_israel_flags2As Israel’s battle with Hamas terrorists escalates, more than 3,500 South Floridians of different faiths and backgrounds showed their overwhelming support for the Jewish state at a community solidarity rally on July 31.

The rally, dubbed “Miami Unites for Israel,” took place at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach and its sponsors included the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, its Jewish Community Relations Council and the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami in partnership with the Israeli American Council, area synagogues, and other Jewish organizations and agencies. Those who attended held up signs supporting Israel and condemning Hamas as they heard a 15-second siren, listened to prayers and songs, learned about the experiences from IDF soldiers and local students who came back from study-abroad programs in the Jewish state and listened to remarks by several local leaders.

Continue reading at the Sun-Sentinel.

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Hamas threatening journalists in Gaza who expose abuse of civilians

media-outlet-collageReporters are bullied, have equipment confiscated, barred from sensitive sites… but they don’t report it. ‘They’re too scared,’ says Israeli official, lamenting capitulation to harassment

Several Western journalists currently working in Gaza have been harassed and threatened by Hamas for documenting cases of the terrorist group’s involvement of civilians in warfare against Israel, Israeli officials said, expressing outrage that some in the international media apparently allow themselves to be intimidated and do not report on such incidents

The Times of Israel confirmed several incidents in which journalists were questioned and threatened. These included cases involving photographers who had taken pictures of Hamas operatives in compromising circumstances — gunmen preparing to shoot rockets from within civilian structures, and/or fighting in civilian clothing — and who were then approached by Hamas men, bullied and had their equipment taken away. Another case involving a French reporter was initially reported by the journalist involved, but the account was subsequently removed from the Internet.

Continue reading at the Times of Israel.

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Babies Under Fire

BarzilaiKeeping fragile newborns safe under bombardment from Gaza is no easy matter.

Booming missile fire and wailing air-raid sirens are the “lullabies” reaching the tender ears of newborns at Ashkelon’s Barzilai University Medical Center these days. Rockets are falling on the Ashkelon area at a furious pace, up to 200 every day.

“We hear bombs all the time,” says Dr. Shmuel Zangan, head of pediatrics and neonatology at Barzilai, speaking to ISRAEL21c on Monday morning moments after yet another bombardment.

The infants are out of harm’s way, in the hospital’s protected rooms.

Zangan says the newborn nursery and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) have been moved seven times since 2006 in response to intensified bombardments from Hamas terrorists in Gaza. The most recent transfer took place on July 8.

Zangan explains that transporting fragile newborns carries great risk for brain injury, so the decision is not taken lightly. Furthermore, because Barzilai has limited sheltered spaces, he is forced to discharge many newborns earlier than he normally would.

“Our hospital serves more than half a million civilians, and we do 4,500 deliveries per year,” he says.

Like in any other modern hospital, about 10 percent of newborns at Barzilai arrive prematurely. The medical center has a 22-bed NICU and a 40-bed newborn nursery. Only a fraction of these babies can be accommodated in the protected rooms.

“As a result, the capacity for treating babies here has shrunk 40-50%. In order to be able to treat those babies who really need it, I have to discharge preterm babies a few days early, and full-term babies after 36 hours,” says Zangan.

“The other problem is that the remaining babies are very crowded in the sheltered areas and that’s a risk factor for cross infection. We urgently need more sheltered spaces, and we’re working on that.”

He points out that in Gaza, just seven miles from Ashkelon, hospital shelters are expropriated by Hamas operatives for their own safety.

“While we are doing all we can to use our shelters to give life, we know our neighbors are using shelters to protect leaders of Hamas,” says Zangan. “If you want to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, look at how they use their sheltered areas in hospitals. That is the litmus test.”

Continue reading at Israel21c.

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