Operation to rid Sinai of armed criminals begins Friday
A military source said Thursday that the “zero hour" to rid Sinai of criminal elements begins Friday, which corresponds with 10 Ramadan, the anniversary of the October War of 1973.
The armed forces are cooperating with the police to face criminal elements in North Sinai, within a plan to tighten control over the situation in the region.
The source said that ten armed elements were killed and dozens others wounded in the past 48 hours.
The military campaign is equipped with heavy machinery, rocket launchers, and Apache helicopters, with tanks placed in numerous fixed and moving checkpoints.
The source added that the army had spotted all terrorist outposts, and that the criminals started to come out of their hiding places after their energy and ammunition had been depleted in the last few days.
Tribal elders are providing the troops with information about the terrorist hideouts in the mountain valleys so that they can besiege them.
The source pointed out that the demolition of tunnels along the border contributed vastly to the operation, as the militants used to carry the injured to the Palestinian side for treatment there. Some tunnels are difficult to destroy, however, as they are dug inside people’s homes.
The source described the upcoming “cleansing" operation as a lifesaver for real development in the peninsula.
Participating in the operation is the Second Field Army, special parachute forces and commandos, the Navy, and the Air Force.
The police have also been on maximum alert there for more than a month.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm
The Spokesperson’s Office of the Israel Defense Forces confirmed, Friday morning, that the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has been deployed in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, next door to the Sinai Peninsula and the Jordanian city of Aqaba, and not far from the western part of Saudi Arabia.
The deployment follows rising tensions because of the turmoil in Egypt, as well as recent missile launchings at the Red Sea port.
The IDF has stationed an Iron Dome missile defense battery near the southern city of Eilat, an army spokesperson said on Friday.
The move comes amid the latest bout of unrest in Egypt that has put Israel on edge in part because of an increase of Islamist militancy in the Sinai region.
Iron Dome batteries are placed in different areas of the country from time to time in response to the army’s assessment of security conditions, the IDF spokesperson said on Friday.
Meanwhile, two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening landed in open territory near the Eshkol Regional Council.
No injuries or damage were reported in the attack.
Earlier this month IDF troops found the remains of the first rocket to be fired from Egypt since the July 3 overthrow of the Islamist government there, a military official said.
An IDF spokesman said the rocket remnant had been discovered in the hills north of Eilat.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.
The IOF has deployed an Iron Dome missile defense battery near the southern city of Eilat, an Israeli army spokesperson said on Friday.
The Jerusalem Post Israeli newspaper reported that the move comes amid the latest period of unrest in Egypt that put Israel’s security on risk due to military operations carried out by the Egyptian Army against the Islamist militancy in the Sinai region.
The IOF spokesperson also said that Iron Dome batteries are placed in different areas of Israel from time to time in response to the army’s assessment of security conditions.
Regards Egypt’s military operation, Yediot Ahranot Israeli newspaper reported that the operation is expected to include two infantry regiments, Special Forces, armored units and combat helicopters.
Egypt’s interim president Adli Mansour said Thursday, “We will fight a battle for security until the end."
According to the same newspaper, the Egyptian forces captured 19 Grad rockets from Suez en route to Cairo, and added they are of the same make as those in Hamas ‘ hands, and he estimated they were sent to Cairo to aid the Muslim Brotherhood.
<nyt_headline version="1.0″ type=" “>Billions in Debt, Detroit Tumbles Into Insolvency
By MONICA DAVEY and MARY WILLIAMS WALSH
DETROIT — Detroit, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest American city ever to take such a course.
The decision, confirmed by officials after it trickled out in late afternoon news reports, also amounts to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.
“This is a difficult step, but the only viable option to address a problem that has been six decades in the making,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, who authorized the move after a recommendation from the emergency financial manager he had appointed to resolve Detroit’s dire financial situation.
Not everyone agrees how much Detroit owes, but Kevyn D. Orr, the emergency manager, has said the debt is likely to be $18 billion and perhaps as much as $20 billion.
For Detroit, the filing came as a painful reminder of a city’s rise and fall.
“It’s sad, but you could see the writing on the wall,” said Terence Tyson, a city worker who learned of the bankruptcy as he left his job at Detroit’s municipal building on Thursday evening. Like many there, he seemed to react with muted resignation and uncertainty about what lies ahead, but not surprise. “This has been coming for ages.”
Detroit expanded at a stunning rate in the first half of the 20th century with the arrival of the automobile industry, and then shrank away in recent decades at a similarly remarkable pace. A city of 1.8 million in 1950, it is now home to 700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets.
From here, there is no road map for Detroit’s recovery, not least of all because municipal bankruptcies are rare. State officials said ordinary city business would carry on as before, even as city leaders take their case to a judge, first to prove that the city is so financially troubled as to be eligible for bankruptcy, and later to argue that Detroit’s creditors and representatives of city workers and municipal retirees ought to settle for less than they once expected.
Some bankruptcy experts and city leaders bemoaned the likely fallout from the filing, including the stigma. They anticipate further benefit cuts for city workers and retirees, more reductions in services for residents, and a detrimental effect on borrowing.
“For a struggling family I can see bankruptcy, but for a big city like this, can it really work?” said Diane Robinson, an office assistant who has worked for the city for 20 years. “What will happen to city retirees on fixed incomes?”
But others, including some Detroit business leaders who have seen a rise in private investment downtown despite the city’s larger struggles, said bankruptcy seemed the only choice left — and one that might finally lead to a desperately needed overhaul of city services and to a plan to pay off some reduced version of the overwhelming debts. In short, a new start.
“The worst thing we can do is ignore a problem,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We’re finally executing a fix.”
The decision to go to court signaled a breakdown after weeks of tense negotiations, in which Mr. Orr had been trying to persuade creditors to accept pennies on the dollar and unions to accept cuts in benefits.
All along, the state’s involvement — including Mr. Snyder’s decision to send in an emergency manager — has carried racial implications, setting off a wave of concerns for some in Detroit that the mostly white Republican-led state government was trying to seize control of Detroit, a Democratic city where more than 80 percent of residents are black.
The nature of Detroit’s situation ensures that it will be watched intensely by the municipal bond market, by public sector unions, and by leaders of other financially challenged cities around the country. Just over 60 cities, towns, villages and counties have filed under Chapter 9, the court proceeding used by municipalities, since the mid-1950s.
Leaders in Washington and in Lansing, the state capital, issued statements of concern late Thursday. A White House spokeswoman said President Obama and his senior team were closely monitoring the situation.
“While leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city’s creditors understand that they must find a solution to Detroit’s serious financial challenge, we remain committed to continuing our strong partnership with Detroit as it works to recover and revitalize and maintain its status as one of America’s great cities,” Amy Brundage, the spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The debt in Detroit dwarfs that of Jefferson County, Ala., which had been the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy, having filed in 2011 with about $4 billion in debt. The population of Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, is more than twice that of Stockton, Calif., which filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and had been the nation’s most populous city to do so.
Other major cities, including New York and Cleveland in the 1970s and Philadelphia two decades later, have teetered near the edge of financial ruin, but ultimately found solutions other than federal court. Detroit’s struggle, experts say, is particularly dire because it is not limited to a single event or one failed financial deal, like the troubled sewer system largely responsible for Jefferson County’s downfall.
Instead, numerous factors over many years have brought Detroit to this point, including a shrunken tax base but still a huge, 139-square-mile city to maintain; overwhelming health care and pension costs; repeated efforts to manage mounting debts with still more borrowing; annual deficits in the city’s operating budget since 2008; and city services crippled by aged computer systems, poor record-keeping and widespread dysfunction.
All of that makes bankruptcy — a process that could take months, if not years, and is itself expected to be costly — particularly complex.
“It’s not enough to say, let’s reduce debt,” said James E. Spiotto, an expert in municipal bankruptcy at the law firm of Chapman and Cutler in Chicago. “At the end of the day, you need a real recovery plan. Otherwise you’re just going to repeat the whole thing over again.”
The municipal bond market will be paying particular attention to Detroit because of what it may mean for investing in general obligation bonds. In recent weeks, as Detroit officials have proposed paying off small fractions of what the city owes, they have indicated they intend to treat investors holding general obligation bonds as having no higher priority for payment than, for instance, city workers — a notion that conflicts with the conventions of the market, where general obligation bonds have been seen as among the safest investments and all but certain to be paid in full.
Leaders of public sector unions and municipal retirees around the nation will be focused on whether Detroit is permitted to slash pension benefits, despite a provision in the State Constitution that union leaders say bars such cuts.
Officials in other financially troubled cities may feel encouraged to follow Detroit’s path, some experts say. A rush of municipal bankruptcies appears unlikely, though, and leaders of other cities will want to see how this case turns out, particularly when it comes to pension and retiree health care costs, said Karol K. Denniston, a bankruptcy lawyer with Schiff Hardin who is advising a taxpayer group that came together in Stockton after its bankruptcy.
“If you end up with precedent that allows the restructuring of retirement benefits in bankruptcy court, that will make it an attractive option for cities,” Ms. Denniston said. “Detroit is going to be a huge test kitchen.”
Around this city, there was widespread uncertainty about what bankruptcy might really mean, now and in the long term. Officials said city workers were being sent letters, notifying them that city business would proceed as usual, from bills to permits. A hot line was planned for residents and others with questions and worries.
For some Detroiters, recent memories of bankruptcies by Chrysler and General Motors — and the re-emergence of those companies — appeared to have calmed nerves. But experts say corporate bankruptcy procedures are significantly different from municipal bankruptcies.
In municipal bankruptcies, for instance, the ability of judges to intervene in how a city is run is sharply limited. And municipal bankruptcies are a form of debt adjustment, as opposed to liquidation or reorganization.
Here, residents are likely to see little immediate change from the way the city has been run since March, when Mr. Orr arrived to oversee major decisions. A bankruptcy lawyer, he is widely expected to continue to run Detroit during a legal process. Mayor Dave Bing and Detroit’s elected City Council are still paid to hold office and are permitted to make decisions about day-to-day operations, though Mr. Orr could remove those powers.
Mr. Orr has said that as part of any restructuring he wants to spend about $1.25 billion on improving city infrastructure and services. But a major concern for Detroit residents remains the possibility that services, already severely lacking, might be further diminished in bankruptcy.
About 40 percent of the city’s streetlights do not work, a report from Mr. Orr’s office showed. More than half of Detroit’s parks have closed since 2008.
Monica Davey reported from Detroit, and Mary Williams Walsh from New York.