ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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US official dismisses deal critics in US, Israel: ‘They did not reach a better one’

‘When those so-called better terms for either side were on the table, they ended up not reaching an agreement,’ top official says. ‘Previous pieces of paper are just that’

An aerial view of an Israeli offshore gas rig (Albatross Aerial photography/Noble Energy/Flash90/File)
An aerial view of an Israeli offshore gas rig (Albatross Aerial photography/Noble Energy/Flash90/File)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

IDF downs small quadcopter drone flown by Hamas near Gaza border

A drone belonging to the Hamas terror group is seen after being downed by troops on the border with the Gaza Strip, on October 11, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
A drone belonging to the Hamas terror group is seen after being downed by troops on the border with the Gaza Strip, on October 11, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces says troops downed a small quadcopter drone launched by the Hamas terror group over the northern Gaza Strip earlier today.

According to the IDF, the small off-the-shelf device was monitored during its flight and did not cross Israel’s barrier with the coastal enclave. It was brought down while near the border fence.

The IDF does not specify how it was brought down; however, it is believed to have been done using electronic warfare means.

The drone was taken by the military for further inspection, the IDF adds.

Knesset speaker says Lebanon deal will be presented to plenum Wednesday

Lawmakers at the Knesset plenum in Jerusalem, June 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Lawmakers at the Knesset plenum in Jerusalem, June 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy says he will allow the new maritime deal with Lebanon to be presented to the Knesset plenum tomorrow, to ensure the action is not delayed by a week due to the Sukkot holiday.

This, Levy says, will “allow Knesset members to review its details as soon as possible, immediately after the cabinet discusses it.”

New poll finds plurality of Israelis back maritime border deal

A new Channel 12 poll shows a plurality of Israelis support the new maritime agreement with Lebanon.

The survey of 500 people, with a margin of error of 4.4%, found that 40 percent support the deal, while 29% oppose it. Meanwhile, 31% said they don’t know.

Channel 12 once again surveys voting intentions and finds Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc remains short of a majority with a projected 59 seats in the next Knesset.

A second poll for Kan gives Netanyahu’s bloc 60 seats.

American official dismisses critics in US, Israel: ‘They did not reach a better deal’

An Israeli Sa'ar Class 5 Corvette guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
An Israeli Sa'ar Class 5 Corvette guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

More from the top US official, who tears into critics from the Trump administration and the Israeli opposition who have branded the US-brokered maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon as a deal tilted in Beirut’s favor and beneficial to the Hezbollah terror group.

“Many people have said over the last several days that a better deal could have been done for one side or the other. Others have claimed that they could have negotiated a better deal — some from the region, some from the United States. They were in power. They did not reach a better deal,” the senior official says.

“And when those better so-called better terms for either side were on the table, they ended up not reaching and not concluding an agreement.”

He was dismissive of the argument that previous proposals had been more beneficial to Israel.

“There have been several proposals for so-called better terms for one side or the other, but since they were not agreed to, they were just proposals, and the threat of insecurity, violence and conflict continued to rise.”

“Previous pieces of paper are just that,” he said.

Senior Biden official warns against delaying ratification of Israel-Lebanon accord

A senior Biden administration official warns Israel and Lebanon against waiting to ratify the US-brokered maritime agreement, as the Israeli government comes under pressure from opposition lawmakers who argue that the deal should not be signed by a caretaker cabinet with an election just weeks away.

“No one can guarantee what the future holds, and therefore no one can guarantee that opportunities for the future of Israel, for the security of Israel and the economic prosperity of Lebanon will still be there at a different time,” the senior US official says.

He hints at optimism that the deal will indeed be seen through, telling reporters on a phone briefing that “the governments on both sides are aware of the political reality that they that they live in, and I have every expectation that this agreement is going to be signed and put into force [as early as possible].”

“When the opportunity is there, and there’s a pathway toward an agreement [the] momentum should be taken advantage of,” the senior official adds.

US official says Hezbollah threats played no part in maritime negotiations

Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)
Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)

A senior Biden administration official affirms Israel’s control over the Karish gas field in the eastern Mediterranean and dismisses previous threats made by Hezbollah that the terror group would attack Israel if the latter had begun natural gas extractions at the site before a maritime deal was reached.

Asked by The Times of Israel during a phone briefing whether the newly announced maritime deal between Israel and Lebanon took into account Hezbollah’s threats, the senior US official says, “Threats are not what drove these negotiations. What drove them was the need to secure the entire coast for Israel and to provide economic interests for Lebanon.

“In that context. The United States has always supported Israel’s right to develop Karish, and we are satisfied and happy that Lebanon will now be able to develop the [Qana field] as well as others,” the official adds.

Ukraine says body of Israeli citizen killed in combat recovered in prisoner swap

The Ukrainian presidency says that 32 of its soldiers have been freed and the body of an Israeli citizen recovered in the latest prisoner swap with Russia.

“Another exchange of prisoners took place today. We managed to free 32 of our soldiers and get back the body of Israeli citizen Dmytro Fialka,” Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office, writes on Telegram.

Fialka fought alongside Ukrainian forces and was killed in action on September 1.

Biden: ‘Energy should serve as tool for cooperation, stability and prosperity’

US President Joe Biden speaks about Hurricane Fiona during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 2 office in New York, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (AP/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden speaks about Hurricane Fiona during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 2 office in New York, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Biden issues a statement on the Israeli-Lebanese accord, calling it “a historic breakthrough in the Middle East.”

“Energy — particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean — should serve as the tool for cooperation, stability, security and prosperity, not for conflict,” he says. “The agreement announced by both governments today will provide for the development of energy fields for the benefit of both countries, setting the stage for a more stable and prosperous region, and harnessing vital new energy resources for the world.

“It is now critical that all parties uphold their commitments and work towards implementation.”

He says the deal “protects Israel’s security and economic interests critical to promoting its regional integration” while providing Lebanon “the space to begin its own exploitation of energy resources.”

PMO publishes key points of Lebanon deal

The Prime Minister’s Office publishes what it says are the key points of the new maritime border deal with Lebanon.

Israel’s current buoy-marked border line will be recognized as the status quo, with no changes without agreement from both sides. At the end of the buoys, the border will go along so-called Line 23 (see image).

Map showing Israel-Lebanon maritime border claims (AFP News Agency)

Israel will receive monetary compensation for a certain percentage of revenue from the Qana gas field that will be held by Lebanon, which will be decided in negotiations with drilling company TotalEnergies.

Israel will receive a letter of guarantee from the US stressing Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security and economic rights in case Hezbollah or another party fails to respect the deal.

The PMO says the deal will contribute to border stability and will reduce Lebanon’s dependence on Iranian funds.

Biden congratulates Lebanon’s president on maritime agreement

Biden has also called Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, the latter’s office says.

Biden congratulated Auon “on the conclusion of negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime border, stressing the United States’ support for Lebanon to achieve stability and enable it to strengthen its economy and benefit from its natural resources,” the statement says.

Biden speaks to Lapid about maritime deal: ‘You’re making history’

Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks via phone to US President Joe Biden on August 31, 2022. (Courtesy)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks via phone to US President Joe Biden on August 31, 2022. (Courtesy)

US President Joe Biden speaks on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and congratulates him on the maritime deal with Lebanon, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

“You’re making history,” Biden told Lapid, according to the readout. The US leader thanked the Israeli team involved in the negotiations, while Lapid thanked US mediators, particularly envoy Amos Hochstein.

According to the statement, Biden repeated his commitment to Israeli security and regional stability.

Slain soldier named as Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, 21

Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, 21, killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank on October 11, 2022 (Courtesy)
Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, 21, killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank on October 11, 2022 (Courtesy)

Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, 21, is the Israeli soldier killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank earlier today, the military announces.

Baruch, from the central town of Gedera and of the military’s Givati infantry brigade, was shot by a Palestinian gunman while securing a march near the settlement of Shavei Shomron.

There are no immediate details on the funeral.

Kyiv branch of Israeli café chain Aroma damaged in missile attack

The Kyiv branch of Israel’s Aroma Espresso Bar café chain sustained damage during yesterday’s Russian missile attack, Israel’s ambassador to the country says.

Michael Brodsky tweets an image from the location.

Prosecutor calls for US school shooter to get death penalty

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during jury selection in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during jury selection in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Nikolas Cruz, who shot and killed 17 people at a Florida high school in 2018, planned and carried out a “systematic massacre,” a prosecutor arguing for the death penalty says.

“What he wanted to do, what his plan was, and what he did was to murder children at school and their caretakers,” prosecutor Michael Satz says in closing arguments at the sentencing trial of 24-year-old Cruz.

“It was calculated. It was purposeful. And it was a systematic massacre,” the assistant state attorney said.

“And he picked Valentine’s Day to do it,” he tells a hushed courtroom packed with family members of those gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a town north of Miami.

Cruz pleaded guilty to the shooting and it is now up to a jury to decide whether he receives the death penalty or life in prison.

Biden to ‘reevaluate’ Saudi ties after OPEC snub

President Joe Biden is to “reevaluate” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia in light of the OPEC+ decision to cut oil production, a White House spokesperson says.

“I think the president’s been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to reevaluate, that we need to be willing to revisit,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN.

“Certainly in light of the OPEC decision, I think that’s where he is.”

Gantz vows security forces will capture Palestinian gunman who killed soldier

National Unity's Benny Gantz at the launch of the party's campaign for the upcoming elections on September 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
National Unity's Benny Gantz at the launch of the party's campaign for the upcoming elections on September 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz vows security forces will capture the Palestinian gunman who killed a soldier in the West Bank earlier today.

“I would like to send my condolences to the family,” Gantz says on Twitter.

“The chase continues during these hours,” he says, promising to capture the gunmen “and those who assisted him.”

Gantz adds that the military’s West Bank operations will “continue and intensify in order to provide security to the citizens of Israel.”

Iran claims to arrest ‘Zionist spy’ in Kerman province

Iranian officials say authorities have arrested a “Zionist spy,” the Tasnim news agency reports.

A prosecutor says the alleged spy “intended to carry out anti-security and subversive measures” in the Kerman province.

He says the spy “was active in the country under the guise of freelance work and business.”

Iran periodically claims to arrest Israeli spies. The veracity of such claims is not known.

Soldier wounded in West Bank shooting earlier has died of his wounds

A soldier wounded in a shooting near the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron earlier today has succumbed to his wounds at a hospital in central Israel, the military says.

The soldier was securing a march held by settlers in the area. The alleged Palestinian gunman, who apparently opened fire from a passing car, fled the area.

The soldier was taken to the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba in serious condition, where he later died.

Zelensky urges G7 nations to help create Ukraine ‘air shield’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative, Tuesday, September 20, 2022, in New York. (AP/Julia Nikhinson)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative, Tuesday, September 20, 2022, in New York. (AP/Julia Nikhinson)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges member countries from the Group of Seven to help Kyiv buy and deploy air defense systems after Russian missiles badly damaged Ukraine energy facilities.

“I am asking you to strengthen the overall effort to help financially with the creation of an air shield for Ukraine. Millions of people will be grateful to the Group of Seven for such assistance,” he says in a video address to G7 leaders.

Netanyahu says Lebanon deal is ‘a historic surrender’

Likud party and opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media in Tel Aviv, October 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Likud party and opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media in Tel Aviv, October 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu says the new maritime border deal with Lebanon is “a historic surrender” to Hezbollah.

“This is not a historic deal, this is a historic surrender,” he says in a statement. “A liquidation sale by Lapid.”

“For over a decade, the government I led did not bow to Nasrallah’s threats, and we did not have war. And then came Lapid. Within three months Lapid surrendered fully to all Hezbollah demands.”

Hezbollah chief Nasrallah to comment on maritime border deal

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is due to deliver a pre-scheduled speech later Tuesday, during which he is expected to give his response to the maritime border deal.

Man in his thirties shot dead in Lod

A man has been shot dead in the city of Lod. Paramedics that arrived on the scene declared the man dead.

The victim was aged around 30.

Police are probing his death.

Minister Shaked says she’ll vote against maritime deal if Knesset not consulted

Head of the Jewish Home party list Ayelet Shaked and party members during election campaign event of the Jewish Home Party in Givat Shmuel, September 20, 2022. (Flash90)
Head of the Jewish Home party list Ayelet Shaked and party members during election campaign event of the Jewish Home Party in Givat Shmuel, September 20, 2022. (Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked says she will vote against the maritime deal with Lebanon if the government does not bring it to the Knesset for approval.

“Every significant deal in recent history has been brought before the Knesset for approval, out of an understanding that significant issues need to be brought” to parliament.

She says this is even truer in a government that is serving in caretaker status.

Trump records lawyer meets with FBI in Mar-a-Lago probe

In this file photo taken on December 15, 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is introduced during the CNN presidential debate at The Venetian Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
In this file photo taken on December 15, 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is introduced during the CNN presidential debate at The Venetian Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

A lawyer for former president Donald Trump who signed a letter stating that a “diligent search” for classified records had been conducted and that all such documents had been given back to the government has spoken with the FBI, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Christina Bobb told federal investigators during Friday’s interview that she had not drafted the letter but that another Trump lawyer who she said actually prepared it had asked her to sign it in her role as a designated custodian for Trump’s records, said the person, who insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The process is of interest to investigators because the Justice Department says the letter was untrue in asserting that all classified records sought by the government had been located and returned. Though the letter, and 38 documents bearing classification markings, were presented to FBI and Justice Department officials during a June 3 visit to Mar-a-Lago, agents returned to the Florida estate with a search warrant on Aug. 8 and seized about 100 additional classified records.

Lebanon asks TotalEnergies to launch gas search ‘immediately’

Lebanese protesters sail near an Israeli Navy vessel during a demonstration Lebanese protesters on a motorboat carry their national flag as they sail in front of an Israeli Navy vessel during a demonstration backing Lebanon's claims to disputed maritime oil and gas fields, near the southern border town of Naqoura, Lebanon, September 4, 2022. (AP/Mohammed Zaatari)
Lebanese protesters sail near an Israeli Navy vessel during a demonstration Lebanese protesters on a motorboat carry their national flag as they sail in front of an Israeli Navy vessel during a demonstration backing Lebanon's claims to disputed maritime oil and gas fields, near the southern border town of Naqoura, Lebanon, September 4, 2022. (AP/Mohammed Zaatari)

Lebanon asks French energy giant TotalEnergies to kick-start gas exploration off its shores, after Israel said the two countries have reached a US-mediated deal to settle their maritime border.

Lebanon’s search for gas riches in the hydrocarbon-rich eastern Mediterranean has stalled since 2020 over competing claims with Israel over offshore gas fields.

Following Israel’s announcement, Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, meets a visiting delegation from TotalEnergies — which was awarded an exploration license in 2018.

“During the meeting, Mikati called on representatives of TotalEnergies to immediately begin taking operational steps to drill in Lebanese waters,” his office says in a statement.

Russia adds Meta to list of ‘terrorist and extremist’ organizations

In this file photo taken on October 28, 2021, a pedestrian walks in front of a new logo and the name 'Meta' on the sign in front of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/AFP)
In this file photo taken on October 28, 2021, a pedestrian walks in front of a new logo and the name 'Meta' on the sign in front of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/AFP)

Russia adds US tech giant Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, to a list of “terrorist and extremist” organizations, according to a database of the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring).

Russia in late March banned Facebook and Instagram for “carrying out extremist activities” after authorities accused Meta of tolerating “Russophobia” during Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

New Russian strikes inflict ‘serious’ damage in central Ukraine

Russian strikes on the central Ukraine region of Dnipropetrovsk did “serious” damage to energy facilities, the region’s head says, on the second day of massive missile salvos across Ukraine.

“The Russians fired missiles at energy infrastructure in the Pavlograd and Kamian districts. There is serious destruction. Many settlements still do not have electricity,” the regional governor Valentin Reznichenko says on social media.

Moscow says ahead of G7 meeting it expects more ‘confrontation’ with West

The Kremlin says it expects more “confrontation” with the West, ahead of an emergency G7 meeting to discuss the latest Russian strikes on Ukraine.

“The mood ahead of the summit is well understood, it is easily predictable. The confrontation will continue,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters, adding that Russia will “achieve its set goals” in Ukraine.

Peskov also criticizes Washington’s pledge to provide Ukraine with “advanced air defense systems.”

“De facto, the United States is already bogged down in this affair,” he says, adding that the deliveries will make “this conflict longer and more painful for the Ukrainian side.”

“But it’s not going to change our goals and the end result,” he adds.

Greek minister denounces father’s Nazi salute in court

Konstantinos Plevris, the lawyer of a jailed ex-Golden Dawn Eurodeputy (MEP), gives a Nazi salute during a hearing in the appeal trial of dozens of jailed members of Greek neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn at Athens' Court of Appeal on October 7, 2022. (Tatiana Bolari/AFP)
Konstantinos Plevris, the lawyer of a jailed ex-Golden Dawn Eurodeputy (MEP), gives a Nazi salute during a hearing in the appeal trial of dozens of jailed members of Greek neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn at Athens' Court of Appeal on October 7, 2022. (Tatiana Bolari/AFP)

Greece’s health minister denounces his far-right father for a Nazi salute made during the ongoing appeal trial of neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn.

Thanos Plevris, a former member of the far-right Greek party Laos, calls the gesture “bestial.”

The minister tells Skai TV he took particular offense that his father Kostas Plevris — who is defending a jailed ex-Golden Dawn Eurodeputy in the trial — made the gesture last week during testimony given by the mother of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper murdered by a Golden Dawn member in 2013.

“It made me shudder,” Plevris told Skai TV. “First, the salute was inside a courtroom. And second… that it was in front of a woman whose child was murdered by a Nazi.”

UN urges ‘complete transformation’ of global energy system

Steam billows from a coal-fired power plant, November 18, 2021, in Craig, Colorado. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Steam billows from a coal-fired power plant, November 18, 2021, in Craig, Colorado. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The world needs to double the supply of electricity from renewables by 2030 to avoid climate change undermining global energy security, the United Nations says.

Not only is the energy sector a major source of the carbon emissions that drive climate change, it is also increasingly vulnerable to the shifts that come with a heating planet, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization stresses.

In its State of Climate Services annual report, the WMO warns that increasingly intense extreme weather events, droughts, floods and sea-level rise — all linked to climate change — are already making energy supply less reliable.

“Time is not on our side and our climate is changing before our eyes,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas stresses.

“We need a complete transformation of the global energy system.”

Man stabbed, seriously injured in Shoham; motive appears criminal

A man in his sixties has been seriously injured after being stabbed in the Shoham industrial zone, east of Tel Aviv.

The man was rushed to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.

Police suspect the motive for the stabbing is criminal. The suspect, a resident of East Jerusalem, fled the scene but was arrested shortly thereafter.

Swedes refuse Russian request for pipeline probe info

Sweden’s prime minister says that her country cannot share with Russia details from its probe into last month’s underwater explosions that ruptured two key gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, citing confidentiality surrounding the investigation.

“In Sweden, there is secrecy around preliminary investigation and that also applies in this case,” Magdalena Andersson says of the blast and ruptures that happened in international waters off Sweden’s Baltic coastline but within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

The explosions ruptured the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which until Russia cut off supplies at the end of August was its main gas supply route to Germany.

They also damaged the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which never entered service as Germany suspended its certification process shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The damaged pipelines discharged huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the air.

Russian defense ministry says carried out fresh strikes on Ukraine

Russia’s defense ministry says its forces have renewed strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities, a day after Moscow carried out a mass nationwide bombardment on the pro-Western country.

Russia’s army “continued to deliver mass strikes with high-precision, long-range… weapons against military command facilities and the energy system of Ukraine,” the ministry says in a statement, adding that “all assigned targets were hit.”

Gantz says maritime deal ‘fair and good for both sides’

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (C) at IDF Northern Command headquarters, alongside IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (R) and Northern Command chief Uri Gordin, October 11, 2022. (Elad Malka)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (C) at IDF Northern Command headquarters, alongside IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (R) and Northern Command chief Uri Gordin, October 11, 2022. (Elad Malka)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says the new maritime border deal with Lebanon “is fair and good for both sides.” He says Israel “wants a Lebanese neighbor that is stable and thriving.”

During a visit to Northern Command headquarters in Safed, the minister says the details of the deal will be provided to the public “with transparency.” He says the defense establishment ensured that the agreement fulfills all security needs.

“We did not concede and will not concede a millimeter on security.”

Gantz also says the deal is advancing “despite the threats of the Hezbollah terror group, which attempted to sabotage the process.”

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