After long dry spell, rains pour over Israel - 2 December 2016
Bringing an end to the exceptionally dry conditions that have plagued Israel this fall, welcome rain drenched much of the country throughout Thursday. The rain, which was accompanied by strong winds and chilly temperatures, was expected to continue on Friday and dwindle by Saturday morning. Although much of the country was experiencing a deluge of wetness on Thursday, Israel’s southern Negev Desert region was undergoing heavy pollution due to a sandstorm. The inclement weather conditions were caused by an upper air trough and a surface depression moving from Cyprus to Syria, Dr. Amos Porat, head of the Climate Department at the Israel Meteorological Service, told The Jerusalem Post. A meteorological trough features low atmospheric pressure, as opposed to a ridge, which features high atmospheric pressure. “This is the regular track of wintry systems and therefore we expect a normal distribution of rainfall, [with] northern and central Israel receiving the largest amounts and southern Israel much less,” Porat said. “The rainfall system is expected to stay until tomorrow night and on Saturday it will be over.” In just a few hours of rainfall on Thursday, the water level of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) rose an entire centimeter, to 218.83 meters below sea level, the Water Authority reported. That being said, the lake is still 5.03 meters short of full capacity. About 20-30 millimeters of rain fell in the mountains of the Galilee and the Golan Heights, with up to 40 millimeters at the summit of Mount Hermon, the Water Authority added. The Mount Hermon Ski Resort even reported some snowfall at the recreational site, which was already closed to visitors for Friday due to expected inclement conditions. Although rains drenched the northern and central portions of the country on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Ministry warned of the potential harmful effects of the simultaneous dust storm plaguing the South. There, the ministry stressed that vulnerable residents, such as those with heart and lung diseases, the elderly, pregnant women and children, should stay indoors for the duration. For the areas of Israel that received rain on Thursday, the wintry weather was a welcome respite from months of dryness.
Hamas to hold war preparation drill in Gaza - 2 December 2016
The government of Hamas, which is the de-facto governing authority in Gaza, continues to build up its military capabilities in preparation for a future conflict with Israel. Gaza’s Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the local security forces, many of whom are active in Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades, announced on Thursday that a comprehensive military drill will be held throughout the coastal enclave this coming Sunday. According to the announcement, the drill will begin at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, and sounds of explosions and gunfire will be heard in Gaza during that time. The police headquarters and some of the Palestinian security forces will be evacuated during the drill, and the forces will be deployed in the field. This appears to be a drill practicing a scenario of an Israeli attack. In recent years, Hamas has been working feverishly to rebuild its infiltration tunnel network into Israel, after the IDF destroyed the network during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. In addition, the group has invested considerable resources in the development and procurement of weapons, including long-range missiles that cover most of the territory of the State of Israel. As part of these efforts, Hamas conducts ongoing missile tests meant to advance its domestic rocket arsenal ahead of its next terror war against Israel. Just last week, a senior Hamas official announced that Hamas has thousands of rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv and localities to the north in the event of another war.