Did Israel Just Launch Another Attack On Sudan?

The Sudanese press insists that between Dec. 15 and 20, Israel carried out air raids that destroyed at least two convoys headed across Sudan toward Egypt. This is not the first time in recent years Israel is accused of launching attacks in the African cou

Israeli air power on display [nivs]
Israeli air power on display [nivs]
Serge Dumont

GENEVA -- Officials in Israel are refusing to confirm claims by the Sudanese press that Israeli planes recently attacked weapons convoys crossing the desert in Sudan. The attacks reportedly took place between Dec. 15 and 20. Media in Sudan say Israeli jets pulverized at least two convoys headed toward Egypt. The convoys were reportedly transporting arms destined for the Gaza strip.

Not everyone in Israel is so tight-lipped. A former Israeli Air Force head told the army radio station Galeï Tsahal on Monday that "whoever carried out the attack should be congratulated." He added: "Our information was accurate as were our strikes."

Sudanese press claims the attacks killed at least five contraband traffickers. The first convoy involved six trucks packed with weapons. The second attack, which occurred Dec. 18 and involved just a single vehicle, may have been a mistake. The first raid took place while Salva Kiir, the president of the newly created Southern Sudan, was on an "historic" 24-hour visit to Jerusalem.

Not an isolated case

Israel has carried out periodic attacks on arms convoys crossing Sudan since 2009, shortly after the end of Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli military invasion of Gaza. The first such attack took place in January of that year, when Israeli jets blew up several all-terrain vehicles packed with explosives, reportedly killing 119 people.

Subsequent air raids were much more focused. An attack carried out in mid-2010 in Port Sudan took out a senior Hamas official in charge of supplying the armed wing of his faction. The official, whose bodyguard was also killed in the attack, was targeted just as he prepared to receive cargo. The man, whose identity was never revealed, is thought to have been the successor of Mahmoud Al Mabrouh, the high level Hamas leader assassinated in January 2010 in a Dubai hotel. Al Mabrouh was wanted by Israeli authorities for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1999.

In addition to bombers, the Israeli military has also used drones and helicopters to operate in Sudan. Following an attack last April, remains of an AGM-114S Hellfire missile, a favorite weapon of the Israeli army, were found along with various pieces of debris marked with Hebrew lettering.

According to Israeli military chroniclers, the navy also plays a central role in trying to cut of Hamas' supply chains. Since 2010, the Israeli fleet may have participated in as many as 80 clandestine operations related in some way to Sudan. The Sudanese government insists also that in 2009, commandos from Israel's elite Shayetet 13 naval unit sabotaged an Iranian ship transporting material for Hamas that docked in Port Sudan. Israeli authorities refuse to answer the claims.

Sudan, Kenya and several other African Union nations launched a campaign last April to bring the repeated attacks to the world's attention. So far the efforts have mostly gone unheard.

Read the original article in French

Photo - nivs

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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