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Israeli aid workers provide support in California as deadly fires rage

Israeli aid workers provide support in California as deadly fires rage

A team of seven aid workers from Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID are working in evacuation centers in California after the worst series of blazes in the state’s history.

Since the fires broke out almost a week ago, 40 people have been killed, 5,700 homes and businesses destroyed, and 100,000 people evacuated throughout the Napa Valley region. Even now, firefighters are struggling to control blazes that are racing towards new communities.

The Israeli team began work in Santa Rosa, California last week, and is helping to coordinate and provide relief supplies and stress management to the affected community.

“The situation on the ground is overwhelming and the need for both physical and emotional support is urgent. The loss of lives, houses and the news about Camp Newman are hard to digest,” said Yotam Politzer, co-CEO of IsraAID.

Some 5,700 homes and businesses have been destroyed in the fires. Photo courtesy IsraAID

IsraAID, a non-governmental organization that flies out all over the world to provide both short and long-term help in the wake of disasters, has a team based in the Bay Area of California, which is supported by the Koret Foundation.

They were “able to respond immediately and work side by side with our friends from Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa, and our partners from JFCS (who provided much needed mattresses), the SF federation, congregation Rodef Sholom, Temple Emanuel and Kol Shofar to establish a camp for children and families affected by the disaster within Shomrei Torah compound,” said Politzer.

He added that IsraAID plans to monitor the long term needs of those affected by the fires, and provide support during the recovery process.

Read More: Israel 21c

Collecting intelligence – and in ways no female soldier has done before


On a hill overlooking the small community of Yahel in the Arava, a unit of female combat intelligence soldiers are using their newest advanced tactical reconnaissance vehicle to see into the darkness and thwart possible terrorist attacks.

“There is no one else collecting intelligence in the area except us,” company commander Capt. Guy Ribenfeld of Field Intelligence Battalion 727, known as Eitam, said as The Jerusalem Post joined his soldiers late at night recently near the Israeli-Jordanian border.
Using the “Granit” since August, Ribenfeld’s soldiers are the first female combat intelligence soldiers in the IDF to use the tactical intelligence collection vehicle once used only by male soldiers.

His soldiers, who trained for one week on the system before being deployed to the field with the vehicle, have a unique role, combining their combat capabilities as infantry soldiers with their advanced intelligence-gathering skills.

Built by Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group, the “Granit” has been integrated onto the Ford 550 Ram model, which has full armor protection and a concealed telescopic mast that can be raised at the press of a button when the vehicle stops.

Along with its telescopic mast and radar system, the “Granit” combines several field intelligence-collection systems and strengthens the IDF’s means of intelligence gathering.

“Intelligence collection has become more effective, faster and precise” Ribenfeld said, explaining that the system’s architecture and easy user interface allows for clearer intelligence on a target spotted by radar.

“Without this system, you would have to use a map to figure out where the target is and would lose time trying to figure out what the target is,” he said, adding that the system quickly closes the circle from spotting a target to getting all the relevant intelligence on it.

“It’s automatic and almost instant. I see something and I press a button and get all the information I need on the target.”

The mobility of the system also allows increased flexibility for the operators if they are needed in a different area, such as deeper in the Negev desert where there is no surveillance or IDF presence.

Read More: J Post

Trump decertifies Iran nuclear deal, slaps sanctions on IRGC in broadside at ‘radical regime’

Trump Threatens to Cancel Iran Nuclear Deal if It’s Not Strengthened

President Trump announced Friday he will decertify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying he believes the “radical regime” has committed multiple violations of the agreement as he kicked a decision over whether to restore sanctions back to Congress.

“I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakthrough.”

Friday’s announcement does not withdraw the United States from the Iran deal, which the president called “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

But the president threatened that he could still ultimately pull out of the deal.

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, the agreement will be terminated,” he said. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of Trump’s speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president will use the Congressional Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to decertify the agreement, which was negotiated over 18 months by the Obama administration.

Congress could then decide to restore sanctions, do nothing or make changes to the law. Trump is pressing Congress to work to fix the deal’s “flaws.”

In making his decision, Trump said, “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.” Among other alleged violations, Trump said Iran failed to meet expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges and intimidated international inspectors into not using their full authority.

The president also slammed sunset provisions in the deal itself, complaining that the U.S. got a “weak inspection” in exchange for a “short-term” delay in Iran’s nuclear progress.

Trump, meanwhile, announced plans to take action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, authorizing the Treasury Department to impose targeted sanctions against “its officials, agents, and affiliates.”

“Execution of our strategy begins with a long overdue step of imposing tough sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Trump said. “The revolutionary guard is the Iranian supreme leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia.”

Read More: Fox News

Trump Threatens to Cancel Iran Nuclear Deal if It’s Not Strengthened

Trump Threatens to Cancel Iran Nuclear Deal if It’s Not Strengthened(1)

President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to terminate the Iran nuclear deal if Congress doesn’t strengthen it, warning the agreement was merely a “temporary delay” in Tehran’s quest to obtain nuclear weapons.

In a speech at the White House laying out what he called a “new strategy” for dealing with Iran, Trump also accused Iran of violating both the letter and spirit of the deal and said the U.S. would impose new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s elite security and military organization.

By declining to certify that Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, Trump put its future squarely in the hands of Congress, which will now have to decide whether to attach new conditions to the agreement or reimpose sanctions on Iran with regard to the country’s nuclear program. Those sanctions were lifted as part of the agreement, and reimposing them would effectively destroy the deal.

And Trump, who throughout his campaign and his presidency has expressed intense disdain for the deal, made clear Friday that he wouldn’t hesitate to cancel it if complications with Congress arose in moving forward on toughening it.

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution … with Congress, than the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said, adding that American participation “can be canceled by me at any time, period.”

“I can do that instantaneously,” the president told reporters after his speech.

When a reporter reminded Trump he has said that he planned to rip up the deal, he responded: “I may do that. The deal is terrible.”

Trump, in his address, contended that Iran was “not living up the spirit of the deal” — in contrast to a statement from his own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on Thursday that the country was “technically compliant” with it.

Trump also ripped Iran’s leaders as leading a “fanatical regime” that is spreading “death, destruction and chaos around the globe.”

Getting a decision on sanctions out of Congress — which has been unable to agree on any significant legislation this year — is considered unlikely, meaning the status quo on the Iran agreement could remain.

In a briefing with reporters on Thursday afternoon, Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster explained that the administration’s goal would be for Congress to create “trigger points” for Iran that would mandate the reimposition of sanctions if Tehran doesn’t meet specific revised criteria.


Read More: NBC News