The Obama administration confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday that a Russian sale of fighter jets to Iran would be a violation of the UN arms embargo, highlighting another Iranian attempt to defy its international obligations. Iran announced last week that it would buy Sukhoi-30 fighter jets from Russia. In response, Michael Singh, former senior advisor for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, tweeted, “For the next five years, US or other P5 member could block this per UNSC Res 2231.” Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press reported on Thursday that U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. “will raise” the issue with Russia and that the countries that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran, which includes Russia, "should be fully aware of these restrictions." As part of UN Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Iranian nuclear deal, the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, and France agreed to leave the UN arms and ballistic missile embargoes in place for five and eight years, respectively. According to the resolution, Toner explained that such a sale would require the Security Council’s approval "in advance on a case-by-case basis."
Klapper also reported that even though U.S. officials say that the sale would not violate the nuclear deal, “it would amount to another in a long string of Iranian transgressions of U.N. Security Council resolutions.” Since the nuclear deal was reached in July, Iran has launched two ballistic missiles, exported weapons to both Yemen and Syria, and violated international travel bans. The Islamic Republic broke international law when it released videos and photos of the American sailors it detained in the Persian Gulf. Additionally, Iran’s provocative actions in the region and hostile activities toward the United States continue. Iran announced it will unveil an upgraded version of the ballistic missile it launched in October, held anti-American rallies, launched cyberattacks against the State Department, and fired rockets near a U.S. vessel in the Persian Gulf. Iran has also escalated its involvement in Syria, sending thousands of Iranian troops to assist the Bashar al-Assad regime, which continues to use chemical weapons and bomb its own people indiscriminately.
Meeting with a group of mothers and their families from Israeli communities near the Gaza border, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power heard about the reality of daily life under the threat of rocket attacks from the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas, The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.
The meeting was held at Kibbutz Nachal Oz, a community of 380 people that sustained 265 rocket and mortar attacks during the 2014 war with Hamas. Four-year-old Danny Turgeman was killed by a mortar fired from Gaza in the closing days of the conflict.
Zohar Lahav Sheffer, one of the mothers in attendance, told Power that even a year and a half after the war’s conclusion, loud noises still make her three children jump. “They are scared of every sound they hear,” she said. “It reminds them of scary things from the war.” Sheffer, who comes from nearby Kibbutz Gevi’im, explained that her family had to leave their home due to the war. “They ask hard questions about why [they] should grow up in a situation like this,” she added.
The house of another mother in attendance, Adele Raemer of Kibbutz Nirim, was struck by a Hamas rocket during the conflict. The rocket also knocked out electricity to the entire kibbutz. “As terrifying as it is to be shot at when there is light, it is even more terrifying to be shot at in the darkness less than two kilometers from the border,” Raemer, an American citizen, told Power. She added that before the power was restored, the kibbutz was hit by yet another Hamas rocket, which killed two people and severely injured a third.
Another woman at the meeting was Atara Orenbouch, a mother of seven who moved to the border city of Sderot 17 years ago. Her children range in age from six to 23, prompting her to observe, “Some of my children were born into Kassam; that is the only thing they know.” Kassams are the names of some of the rockets that Hamas fires at Israeli communities. Still, Orenbouch said that she did not consider leaving, explaining, “we have a lovely community in Sderot.” Orenbouch added that her family lived in Sderot for one year before Hamas rockets started hitting the city, including one that landed in a neighbor’s backyard.
Janet Cwaigenbaum, who lives in Kibbut Nir Yitzhak, told Power that while her family was celebrating her son’s Bar Mitzvah as the war was beginning in July 2014, they could hear explosions echoing from Gaza. “We have to explain to our children that there are no monsters under the bed, but there are tunnels,” she said. “We do not know if a terrorist will come up from the tunnel.”
Another woman in attendance, Hila Haim Sheffer said that, having grown up in Nachal Oz, she witnessed how a “peaceful community” where Israelis and Arabs coexisted had become “a fearful place.”
“I have different memories from what my kids have now, good memories regarding the neighbors [Palestinians],” Hila Sheffer told Power. “I am very connected to the land here. I am [passing this on] to my kids. I hope they will stay here.” In response to a question from Power about how they kept hope alive, Hila Sheffer answered, “I am an optimistic person.”
Power offered words of encouragement to the families and praised them for their bravery in the face of threats and their understanding of the suffering on both sides. As a friend of both the Israelis and the Palestinians, the U.S. would work hard to bring peace between them, she added.
The United States “will always stand with Israel,” Power affirmed. “We will always stand for your security and for your legitimacy in the UN.”
In a speech earlier this week in Israel, Power lambasted the United Nations for its systemic anti-Israel bias.
A 2015 study conducted by Prof. Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, a director at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, found that “40 percent of children in Sderot experience symptoms of anxiety, fear, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
According to the IDF, Palestinian groups have launched over 11,000 rockets at Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, with over 5 million Israeli civilians living under threat of rocket fire. (via TheTower.org)
Via, a ride-sharing app launched in 2012 and so far available in parts of Chicago and New York City, offers on-demand shared rides driven only by licensed taxi drivers. Book a ride through the free iOS or Android app, and the algorithms match you with a “Via-cle” already headed your way with up to five other passengers. Rides, which cost $5 plus tax prepaid (or $7 plus tax) automatically charged to a credit card or commuter benefits debit card, are not door to door but rather pick you up on the nearest corner of a street that flows in the direction of your destination and drop you off within a couple of blocks of where you want to go. Last spring, Via raised $27 million in a Series B financing round led by Pitango. The company is headquartered in New York, with an office in Chicago and a product development team of about 35 in Tel Aviv. Via founders Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval met in the Israel Air Force, where they led large-scale technology projects. Ramot then earned a doctorate in neuroscience from Stanford University and Shoval earned a doctorate in systems biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. “The idea for Via came from Israel, where many people rely on shared vehicles called sheruts to travel quickly, cheaply and easily along major streets,” says Shoval. A sherut is like a cross between a taxi and a public bus, cruising along the routes buses normally take, and accommodating about 12 passengers. That’s the model Ramot and Shoval wanted to spread to other cities, but with a high-tech twist. (via Israel21c)