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President Obama lands in Israel

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20 Mar 2013
President Obama lands in Israel

Air Force One landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday, delivering US President Barack Obama on the first overseas trip of his second term in office. Declaring in his remarks to the press that it was "tov l'he'ot shuv b'aretz," (good to be in Israel again) Obama added that the Jewish People’s 3,000 year connection to the Land of Israel and the founding of the modern State was a tale of redemption "unlike any other in history." He added that his visit was "an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors. We stand together because peace must come to the  Holy Land."

“I am confident in declaring that our alliance is l'netzach, eternal, is forever," he added, employing the use of Hebrew.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Obama, thanking him and the American people for "standing by Israel (and) affirming Israel's right to defend itself against any threat," for the "generous military assistance," and for the "unprecedented security cooperation."

President Shimon Peres also addressed welcomed Obama on the tarmac of Ben-Gurion Airport, saying  his visit to Israel was “a crown demonstration of the profound relationship between our two nations.” He added that Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security “enabled our security in an extraordinary way, to project strength. Strengthening security is the best way to strengthen peace.”

Israelis and Palestinians react to Obama visit
Griping was widespread among Israelis this week, as the look forward to traffic congestion and other inconveniences caused by US President Barak Obama’s visit just a few days before the Passover holiday. Route 1, the main artery linking Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, as well as several streets in Jerusalem itself, are scheduled to be closed to non-governmental traffic at different times during the visit. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority police have been engaged in several skirmishes with demonstrators protesting against the visit, with one street battle ending near the main offices of President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday. "People are angry and disappointed that this far into his presidency, Obama has done nothing, and aid to Israel's occupation continues to flow," demonstrator Huwaida Arraf told Reuters.

IDF simulator helps communities prepare for rocket attacks
The IDF and Netivot municipality recently beefed up the community’s defenses against rocket and missile attacks, installing a 3-D simulator which allows local authorities to run highly realistic drills. “The simulator is based on images of the entire town, from one end to the other. It is like the topography simulator used by pilots,” an IDF officer said. “We recorded the simulation, and played it back to the officials... They were able to study their own responses. We want every local authority to be able to provide solutions, in both emergencies and routine times.” The simulator team is scheduled to run similar drills in other Israeli cities soon.

Israeli government turns over the reins to new ministers
Several  'changing-of-the-guard' ceremonies were held at Israel’s different government ministries on Tuesday. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid took the reins from  outgoing Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz as Silvan Shalom replaced Minister of Energy and Water Uzi Landau, who is moving to take over the Tourism portfolio. Elsewhere, former Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar took over as the Interior Minister, replacing Eli Yishai, whose Shas party was not included in the new coalition and will be part of the opposition. Yesh Atid’s Shai Piron took Sa’ar’s place as Education Minister, declaring that there is "no role more important than to be an educator."

Egyptian relations with Hamas fraying
Relations between Egypt’s Islamist dominated government and the Islamist terror militia Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip has taken an unexpectedly bad turn in recent months, suffering another blow on Tuesday when Egypt’s army announced it was investigating a report that Hamas operatives had stolen fabric to create fake army uniforms. “The armed forces are urging the Egyptian masses to watch out, be attentive and alert .... in case of impersonation,” said Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali. The investigation is the latest event sewing tensions between Cairo and Gaza, after recent reports in the Egyptian press blamed Hamas for a clash in the Sinai Peninsula last August which left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead.

Click here for a summary of all the humanitarian aid Israel sent into Gaza in 2012 (PDF)


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