Trump freezes Obama’s last-minute $221 million gift to Palestinians

Former President Barack Obama with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in 2013. /AP

 

A payment of $221 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA) that was authorized in the final hours of Barack Obama’s presidency has been frozen by the Trump administration.

Just hours before President Donald Trump took the oath of office, then-Secretary of State John Kerry formally notified Congress that State would release the $221 million to the PA. Continue reading

Iran shipping incidents in Strait of Hormuz are only latest belligerent acts since nuclear talks began

Earlier this week, Iranian forces seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Tigris, while it was traversing the Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian forces boarded the ship after firing warning shots across its bridge and diverted it to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Iranian officials have not explained why the ship was seized. Continue reading

Rockets hit north of Tel Aviv as Hamas dramatically ups range

While you were busy being distracted by the World Cup:

No initial reports of injuries or damage after massive barrage across country; Netanyahu vows to widen Gaza operation, as cabinet okays call-up of 40,000 troops; rockets shot down over Tel Aviv; terrorists killed in firefight at Zikim army base; Gazan death toll in double digits

Israel launched a major operation against Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza in the early hours of Tuesday morning, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, following heavy Hamas rocket fire over the preceding days. The fast-escalating situation in the south comes in the shadow of spiking Jewish-Arab tensions in Israel over the brutal killings of four teenagers — three Jews and one Arab — by extremists. Stay with The Times of Israel’s liveblog for updates throughout the day. Continue reading

An electromagnetic pulse attack — the ‘other’ Iranian nuclear threat

Just what might happen if the Iranians got their hands on a nuclear weapon? Would they fire it at an Israeli city, causing tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties? Or would they use it as a geopolitical weapon, seeking to dominate the Middle East and forcing the hand of Western powers, either subtly or by overtly threatening death and destruction to those who fail to heed their dictates?

While political scientists and world leaders have debated the likelihood of those two possibilities, there is a third plausible scenario: The use of a nuclear weapon by Iran to carry out an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against Israel, the US, or Europe. Such an attack could cause severe damage to the electrical grid in the targeted nations, to the extent that the routines of daily life — centered around the use of electrical power — could be halted, for a short or even long period of time. Continue reading