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US and Iran in Increasingly Tense Standoff

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18 Jun 2019 (All day)
US and Iran in Increasingly Tense Standoff
The Pentagon released photos on Monday apparently showing Iranian operatives removing an explosive device from the hull of the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman last week, bolstering the US assertion that Iran was behind recent attacks on oil tankers. The release was accompanied by an announcement that 1,000 additional US military personnel are being deployed to the region in an effort to deter further Iranian aggression and push back against such aggression if deterrence fails. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the deployment was designed "for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East" adding that the US would "continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats."

In related news, the US is also accusing Iran of allowing Houthi rebels in Yemen to fire anti-aircraft missiles at surveillance drones over Yemen earlier this month. "A U.S. MQ-9 was shot down over Yemen by what we assess to be a [Huthi] SA-6 surface to air missile on Jun 6," Lieutenant-Colonel Earl Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said in a statement on June 16. He added that on 13 June, Houthi rebels attempted to shoot down another drone which was monitoring the attack on the Kokuka Courageous.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at an event in Jerusalem just hours later, saying 

“Israel is standing on the same front with the United States, moderate Arab states, and with other countries in its opposition to Iranian aggression.”

Here is a video about Iran recently posted by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs



Qatari Money Doesn’t Go to Needy Gazans as Planned
Reports out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip indicate that a large consignment of cash sent into the territory by Qatar, with Israeli consent, did not get distributed to needy families as Qatar intended, but was prevented to from reaching them by an edict from the Palestinian Authority Welfare Ministry in Ramallah. The reports added that the edict was a result of a dispute between the PA and Hamas over a list of eligible welfare recipients.

Israel Blesses the World
Israel’s Economic Ministry and National Cyber Directorate entered into an agreement with the World Bank on Monday to help developing countries build secure cyber networks to facilitate economic growth, employment and prosperity. The Bank’s Digital Development Partnership already includes some of the world’s most powerful countries and Israeli representatives expressed eagerness to cooperate with them to help countries, especially in Africa, give their citizens a better quality of life.

In related news, Israeli medical imaging analytics start-up Zebra Medical Vision received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week to market the HealthICH product, an artificial intelligence-powered product for detecting intracranial hemorrhages. The technology has the potential to save lives and billions of dollars in health care costs annually.

Morsi Dies While Making Courtroom Appearance
Mohamed Morsi, who briefly held power in Egypt after his Moslem-Brotherhood faction won elections in that country following the overthrow of long-time President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, died on Monday after collapsing during a courtroom appearance in Cairo. He was 67. Prosecutors "had just finished the session for the espionage case and they informed the judge that he had fainted and needed to be transported to a hospital where he later died," a judicial source told AFP.

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