A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 17, 2009--Unemployment Rises in Israel
The leading news from Israel is economic. There were 20,000 people who lost their jobs in Israel in January. 12,000 of them found new jobs. The ratio is not very different from the numbers in the US. Of course in Israel there is a unique response: the workers in the unemployment offices are going on strike tomorrow since they have too many people to deal with. On the positive side, Teva, Israel's largest company reported increasing sales with a profit last year of $2.3 billion.
The talks of Gilad Shalit 's quick release seem to have been slowed down. Tomorrow the Israeli cabinet is going to meet to approve the concept of agreeing to more or less of Hamas' demands in return for Shalit's release. The cabinet will not discuss the actual list of terrorists to be released. That will come later. Clearly, if this is going to happen it will take time. All this is taking place in the middle of coalition negotiations. Egypt has given Israel a one week extension to give its final approval.
Today the Israeli army publicly unveiled two of the weapons that were used for the first time in the Second Lebanon War. The large one is the Namir APC (armored personnel carrier). It is built on the chassis of the Merchava tank and thus can give the soldiers close to the same protection as the tank. The Namir's advanced machine gun is fired by remote so as not to endanger the soldiers, and gives a 360 degree real-time view of the area with advanced cameras. The smaller weapon is called I-ball. It is a ball that is slightly smaller than a bowling ball and has built in cameras. It is thrown or rolled into a building, giving the operators in the field views into the buildings that it is thrown into. These new additions are quite advanced and impressive.