IDF Blog: Israel Under Attack
Hamas began shooting projectiles at Israeli civilians starting at 7:37PM on Wednesday evening and launched them consistently until early Thursday morning.
In response, IDF fighter jets struck 12 terror targets in Gaza, including a factory used to manufacture parts for terror tunnels and concrete, a maritime terror tunnel shaft along the coast, and several terror sites in military compounds, among them rocket manufacturing facilities and a central logistical military complex.
The factory used to manufacture parts for terror tunnels was intended to be used as a hotel, but was overtaken by the Hamas terror organization in 2012. The factory manufactures parts for terror tunnels under the guise of civilian infrastructure.
In 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, senior Hamas members used the building as shelter, believing the IDF would not target a civilian hotel construction site. In this building, Hamas terrorists continued to plan fighting and command rocket launching units. Months later, in 2013, Hamas took over the site entirely, blocked the entrance, and began establishing a concrete factory under the guise of a civilian construction site. The factory manufactured concrete parts designed exclusively for terror tunnels, including reinforcements, flooring, and concrete arches, which have no civilian use.
A woman was seriously injured in Israel early Thursday morning when a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a home in the Eshkol regional council near the Palestinian enclave.
The woman was a 30-year-old foreign worker from Thailand. She suffered injuries to her abdomen and limbs. Another person was lightly injured, and several were treated for shock.
Thursday morning’s injuries brought the total of wounded on the Israeli side to five in the current cycle of violence.
Rocket barrages by the Hamas terror group continued throughout the night. The military said over 150 rockets and mortar shells were launched at Israeli communities since Wednesday evening.
Most of the rockets hit open areas. The Iron Dome defense system — which targets only missiles projected to strike communities — destroyed 25 of the rockets.
17 years ago today a suicide bomber entered the Sbarro pizza shop in downtown Jerusalem, detonated his suicide vest and murdered 15 people. The murdered in the August 9, 2001 bombing included 7 children as well as a couple and three of their children, an American citizen and a Brazilian citizen. (See their names and pictures below.) 130 people were injured.
The suicide bomber was Izz al-Din Al-Masri. His family has received $50,124 as a reward for his suicide bombing.
The terrorist who planned the attack and brought the bomber to Sbarro was Ahlam Tamimi. Tamimi was arrested in September 2001 and received 16 life sentences. In 2011, Tamimi was released as part of the deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from his Hamas captors. For her time in prison she has been rewarded by the PA with salary payments of at least $52,681.
The suicide belt was built by Hamas bomb- builder Abdallah Barghouti. Barghouti was arrested in May 2003, and received 67 life sentences – 15 of them for building the bomb used to murder the people in Sbarro. He has received salary payments from the PA of at least $191,526.
By September 2018, the PA will have cumulatively rewarded Barghouti, Tamimi, and the family of Al-Masri with at least $294,332.
Seth J. Frantzman: To the brink of war: How Hamas and Israel got here
The larger regional picture is that Egypt has been trying hard to restrain Hamas and also find a path to a ceasefire. But Egypt is not alone. The Palestinian Authority has sought to isolate Gaza by reducing remittances and payments there. That led to rare protests in June by Palestinians in Ramallah against the PA. Hamas therefore is not only trying to deal with a ceasefire with Israel but also trying to sort out a reconciliation agreement with the PA. That’s why the assassination attempt on Hamdallah in March is important and sets the scene for the conflict that began in late March.
Hamas says it wants Israel to end the 10-year blockade of Gaza and to ease up restrictions on goods flowing to the strip. But the US administration under Donald Trump is having none of the Hamas stories about who is responsible for the Strip’s problems. Jason Greenblatt said in May that Hamas had taken the area back to the Stone Age. He made similar statements in opeds and discussions in March and June. Then, in July, Jared Kushner, Greenblatt and US Ambassador David Friedman authored a piece at The Washington Post again pressuring Hamas. Hamas sees the US officials as “spokesmen for the Israeli occupation,” as it called them in July. But it’s clear that the US sees sorting out Gaza as a key to its proposed “deal of the century.”
A last piece of the puzzle is Qatar, which has also sought a role in dealing with Gaza. A major investor in reconstruction and also a previous backer of Hamas, it wants to be relevant. Towards that end, it has sought to play up the chances for discussions with Israel and positioned itself as playing a positive role.
This is part of a larger struggle between Qatar and Egypt and Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In this sense Gaza is a sort of “prize” between Washington, Qatar, Egypt, Israel, the UN and the PA. Hamas’s desire to terrorize Israel and seem relevant, and the fact that Iran is also funding Hamas and wants it to be a thorn in Israel’s side, is thus just a part of a much larger struggle going on in which each side wants something else out of Israel and Hamas and Gaza.
Adding up all those agendas, including the rising crescendo of war that has built since March, led to August 8.
The Israeli Air Force launched a renewed offensive against targets in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian media reported on Thursday evening, hours after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave struck just outside the southern city of Beersheba.
Minutes after the Israeli strike began, incoming rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol region of southern Israel.
There were no immediate reports of Israeli injuries or damage.
The Israeli military would not immediately confirm the renewed bombing raids in Gaza, apparently in accordance with army protocol to wait until the planes involved have all returned to base.
According to the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news outlet, the target of the strike was a building west of Gaza City. Palestinian media reported that nearly the entire structure was destroyed as the Israeli aircraft fired multiple missiles at it.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke with the leaders of rocket-battered southern communities Thursday and told them the military would do whatever it takes to end missile attacks from the Gaza Strip, after a series of barrages injured seven people.
The Israeli military said over 180 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip since Wednesday night. Residents said it was the worst night of attacks since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
The rocket attacks and reprisal airstrikes by Israel continued throughout Thursday morning.
Liberman talked with Alon Davidi, mayor of Sderot, and the leaders of other regional councils bordering on Gaza, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The minister praised the mayors and the residents of their communities for their “stamina and the backing they are giving the IDF and the security forces,” saying “we will do whatever is necessary” to restore calm to the south.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union faction criticized the government for “losing control” of the situation after months of violent border clashes and exchanges of fire between the IDF and Hamas-led terror groups in Gaza that have escalated into several rounds of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets.
Israel has dealt the Hamas terrorist group a “severe blow” with its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, a diplomatic official said Thursday, shortly after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave reached the furthest into Israeli territory since the 2014 war.
“Hamas has suffered a severe blow,” the official said. “Israel will continue to act with force.”
The remarks came shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman finished meeting with top Israel Defense Forces brass at military headquarters in Tel Aviv. The security cabinet convened there at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the situation in the south.
“The prime minister and defense minister ordered the IDF to prepare for every possibility,” the official said.
Though the frequency of rocket attacks declined by Thursday afternoon, a projectile launched from Gaza landed north of the southern city of Beersheba, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Strip.
This was the first attack directed against Beersheba since the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.
Since last night:
🔺Approx. 180 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel.
🔺The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted over 30 launches. The majority of projectiles landed in open areas.
🔺In response, the IDF targeted over 150 terror targets in the Gaza Strip pic.twitter.com/BQtxfaT8Gn
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) August 9, 2018
— The Mossad (@TheMossadIL) August 8, 2018
The last 13 hours in Israel.
Each of these alerts means an air raid siren sounded, signalling an incoming rocket from Gaza. Each of these alerts also meant that the people living in the area under attack from Gaza only had a few seconds to run for cover. #IsraelUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/uP5miNh8uS
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) August 9, 2018
DRAMATIC PHOTOS: Massive Israeli air strikes in Gaza following latest rocket attacks. pic.twitter.com/dE4q6rbJwS
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) August 8, 2018
These Israelis have 15 seconds to take cover from Hamas rockets
Hamas rocket hits Israeli city of Sderot
This is a Palestinian war crime
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East, on Wednesday expressed concern over the latest escalation in Gaza.
“I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today’s multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel,” he said in a statement.
“For months I have been warning that the humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risks a devastating conflict that nobody wants. The UN has engaged with Egypt and all concerned parties in an unprecedented effort to avoid such a development,” continued Mladenov.
While “collective efforts have prevented the situation from exploding until now,” he said, “if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”
Hamas’s strategy is to remain in power forever; to achieve that goal, it is prepared to do anything. Hamas has always acted out of its own narrow interests while holding the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hostage to its extremist ideology and repressive regime.
“Those who claim to be confronting Israel are nothing but corrupt, extortionist bribe-takers. Today, every politician in the Gaza Strip is well aware of the fact that the corruption at the border crossings has become the norm of the official establishment, and not actions by individuals or a certain apparatus.” — Hassan Asfour, former Palestinian Authority minister, human rights activist and political columnist.
Here one always needs to ask: where is the role of the international media in exposing Hamas’s corruption and exploitation of its own people? Why is it that the mainstream media in the West does not want to pay any attention to what Asfour and other Palestinians are saying? The answer is always simple: As far as foreign journalists are concerned, if Israel is not the one asking for bribes or blackmailing the Palestinians, there is no story there.
A Palestinian official in the Gaza Strip declared that the latest round of violence had ended early Thursday afternoon and that armed groups in the enclave would maintain the calm if Israel did the same.
The announcement, made to a number of news outlets in Gaza, was quickly followed by a fresh attack on southern Israel from the Strip, which triggered sirens in the area but appeared to have hit in an open field, causing neither injury nor damage.
“The current round in Gaza has ended. The resistance responded to the enemy’s crimes in Gaza. The continuation of calm in Gaza depends on (Israel’s) behavior,” said the official from a joint command center for a number of Palestinian terrorist groups, notably the Gaza-ruling Hamas.
A source in the Hamas terrorist group confirmed the cessation to AFP.
On Tuesday, Hamas vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members killed by IDF tank fire after the army mistakenly thought a Hamas military exercise had been a cross-border attack. On Wednesday afternoon, the military warned that it was anticipating a revenge attack by Hamas.
On Hamas TV, Gaza Judge Omar Nofal Extolls the Six Virtues of Martyrdom, Says: Jihad in Palestine Is an Individual Duty Incumbent upon All Muslims pic.twitter.com/vrjYIX1fEB
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) August 9, 2018
Honest Reporting: HR Visits the Gaza Border
Since last night, terror groups fired nearly 200 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israeli communities. The IDF responded against Hamas military infrastructure.
Just the day before, we brought a group of 30 HonestReporting supporters to Israeli communities near the Gaza border, to see the situation in person. We were followed by a crew from i24 News and a segment will be coming out shortly on that channel.
The residents we visited in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Kibbutz Alumim and Asaf Siboni live under real threat. Yet they also live in a beautiful natural area, with homes and communities to which they are genuinely dedicated. And you may be surprised at the empathy and complexity with which they view their neighbours in Gaza.
It’s hard to appreciate the depth of this reality until you meet the people and see their lives, in person. So that’s exactly what we did.
The Foreign Ministry formally complained to the BBC about its reporting on the violence in the South on Thursday.
A BBC headline stated “Gaza air strikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel,” quoting the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The article’s subheadline said “Militants… fired dozens of rockets,” when the count had gone up to over 150. Its tweet leading to the article reads: “Israeli air strikes ‘kill woman and toddler.’”
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded on Twitter: “Your title is deliberately misleading!!! Israel reacted following the launching of over 100 rockets at Southern Israel, targeting and injuring civilians. Change it immediately!!!”
An hour later, with the article unchanged, Nahshon tweeted that he is filing a formal complaint.
“This title is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality (that’s the polite equivalent of ‘this is a LIE’, if you don’t get it),” Nahshon wrote. “Israelis were targeted by Hamas and IDF acts to protect them. Change it IMMEDIATELY!!!”
In a headline, BBC claimed that “Israeli air strikes ‘kill pregnant woman and baby.'”
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted, “@BBCWorld this is a formal complaint by @IsraelMFA .”
“This title is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality ( that’s the polite equivalent of ‘ this is a LIE’, if you don’t get it). Israelis were targeted by Hamas and IDF acts to protect them.Change it IMMEDIATELY!!! @IsraelMFA.”
At the same time, a formal complaint was sent to BBC, demanding they change the misleading title.
After some time, BBC changed its title to “Gaza air strikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel.”
Honest Reporting: A Night of Rockets and Headline Fails
Residents of southern Israel spent the night in bomb shelters as Palestinians fired a heavy barrage of rockets and mortars (nearly 200, according to the most recent numbers I saw). The IDF retaliated with air strikes on more than 100 Hamas terror sites.
As we expected, we came across a few headline fails. Headlines matter because many people don’t read articles, just skimming their newspaper, web site or social media feed. Headlines also matter because studies show that they frame the way people read and remember a story. So if a headline omits key information or context, it ultimately misinforms readers. (For a fuller treatment on this, see Why Headlines Matter).
A lot of social media outrage was directed at BBC News and Israeli officials said they will lodge a formal complaint. This headline was subsequently changed.
The Sydney Morning Herald and its sister paper, The Age, republished a New York Times dispatch. The Times’ original headline was perfectly reasonable but headline writers for Fairfax Media, the parent company of both Australian papers, clearly missed the plot.
A shill is the surreptitious partner of a huckster salesman, revving up an audience to believe a sales pitch and buy a product.
Looking back at months of rioting and arson along the Gaza border with Israel, and the distorted rendition of reality by the New York Times of those events it’s undeniable the publication has promoted Hamas propaganda, relaying to its millions of readers what the terrorist group wanted them to believe and omitting what Hamas preferred concealed. The product sold? Israel as aggressor, Palestinians as victims.
As of this writing, there’s been, for instance, no human interest story devoted to what Israelis are suffering as they witness thousands of acres of farms and nature preserves, and extensive wildlife, destroyed in nearly continuous fires set by flaming kites and airborne fire bombs from Gaza.
When Times Bureau Chief David Halbfinger covered the arson story on July 10, he termed the Hamas campaign “ingenious” and the impact for Israel “exasperating.” (In fact, for Israelis the impact of the destruction can be frightening and devastating.) But the focus was overwhelmingly on criticism of Israel’s countermeasures against Gaza.
As throughout the coverage, the tilt was the same; Hamas violence was discounted and Israel’s defensive action to stop the aggression was heavily faulted.
David Singer: Trump and Israel Dabble in Hamas and PLO Quicksand
Hamas is not going to suddenly disappear or allow free and fair elections in Gaza to determine who shall govern Gaza’s population. Any reconciliation by Hamas with the PLO seems most unlikely to occur.
Israel appears to be going along with this Gaza trial balloon being floated by Trump.
Realistically however – ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas will be fatuous unless the following provision in the 1988 Hamas Covenant is shredded:
“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. … ”
Trump needs to persuade previously-supportive but now wavering Arab states to back his peace plan being released without delay.
For Trump to contemplate being dragged into the Hamas and PLO quicksand that has claimed so many sincerely-intentioned do-gooders preceding him is incomprehensible.
Former Israeli defense officials have expressed skepticism that a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel is feasible.
Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council, noted that a long-term arrangement for Gaza would be possible only if two components are put into place. The first is a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, and the second “is a period of calm between Hamas and the State of Israel.”
“In order to obtain a long-term period of calm, there needs to be major investment in the Gazan economy and infrastructure. That means bringing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to Gaza. Because this is a condition, it is very problematic….There have been countless attempts, led by Egypt, to reach Palestinian national reconciliation.” None of them have succeeded. “Abbas is dragging his feet because he has no interest in promoting this procedure, which would give Hamas gains, but not the PA.”
Dr. Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the designers of the security coordination between the IDF and the PA, said any attempt to reach a full agreement was very likely to end in failure. Israel will want “full quiet” as part of a large package deal. But “Hamas has never agreed to full quiet. I don’t remember it ever agreeing to this.”
At best, if Hamas finds its back to the wall, it might agree to freeze the activities of its military wing, said Elad. “But they will never disband the military wing” as the PA has demanded. Doing so would symbolize “cancelling the resistance” from Hamas’ perspective, which would be unthinkable for them.
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner’s push to reform the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) is a welcome development, a number of officials with leading American Jewish groups told The Algemeiner this week.
Kushner’s efforts were first reported in Foreign Policy magazine, which said that in a series of internal emails, the adviser stated, “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. … This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
Furthermore, Kushner reportedly asked Jordan during a June visit to the Hashemite kingdom to remove two million of its Palestinian citizens from the refugee rolls, effectively making UNRWA’s activities in the country irrelevant.
UNRWA was originally set up to serve refugees displaced in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. At first designed to be a temporary body, it is now seven decades old and is embedded deeply in Palestinian society, serving, for example, as the single largest employer in the Gaza Strip. Critics accuse it of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by counting descendants of the 1948 refugees as refugees themselves, as well as engaging in anti-Israel activities and cooperating with terrorist organizations.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman on Wednesday to discuss the regional situation ahead of the expected unveiling of the U.S. administration’s Middle East peace plan.
After their meeting, Abbas said both leaders agreed to reject the plan, which U.S. President Donald Trump has described as the “deal of the century.”
Abbas declared that he would not cooperate with Trump’s peace mediation efforts after the U.S. last December officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and then moved its embassy to the city. The Palestinians envision parts of Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state.
Abbas has argued that these moves prove Trump’s pro-Israel bias and preclude him from being an objective mediator in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
A White House official told reporters last month that Trump’s envoys were working on the most detailed set of proposals to date for the long-awaited peace proposal, which would include what the administration is calling a robust economic plan, though so far there is no release date.
The Palestinian president is expected to visit Qatar in the next few days.
JPost Editorial: Moscow on the Golan
Russia has deployed Military Police to eight observation points on the Golan. For the first time, Israeli and Russian forces are directly across from each other at a border. This has the makings of a new strategic alignment in Syria, potentially reducing Iran’s presence and bringing stability, or the opposite – increasing tensions with Moscow and its rising power in the region.
Over the last five years as Russia deepened its involvement in support of its ally in Damascus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has navigated a complex conflict through high-level bilateral discussions in Moscow. This involves a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin that is based on many visits and discussions – and respect between the two countries and their interests.
Although Israel and Russia do not always see eye to eye on Syria, and although Russia has tensions with Jerusalem’s closest ally in Washington, a beneficial relationship has nevertheless been created.
During the conflict, this was built on de-confliction and understandings about southern Syria. Potential conflict was reduced and Moscow emphasized that it understood Israel’s concerns about Iran. But Iran is an ally of Bashar Assad and therefore a partner of Moscow in the Syrian war. It is also part of the Astana talks that have sought to advance some kind of an agreement in Syria between Russia, Turkey and Iran.
Jerusalem on Thursday remained silent on the appointment of former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, despite her past statements critical of Israel.
Responding to news of Bachelet’s nomination, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon merely took a parting shot at the UN’s outgoing human rights chief, Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein of Jordan, but did not comment on his appointed successor.
“We welcome the news that the current commissioner of the Human Rights Council’s tenure is at an end,” Danon said.
Zeid “never missed a chance to invent falsehoods and lies when it comes to Israel,” the Israeli envoy went on. “From many of his statements, you would be forgiven for thinking he considered Hamas a welfare, not a terrorist, organization. During his tenure, the [UN Human Rights Council] became a theater of the absurd, with hypocrisy and double standards rampant among its proceedings and reports.”
Danon’s spokesperson did not reply to a Times of Israel query about Bachelet’s appointment.
Colombia’s new government said it would review former President Juan Manuel Santos’ recognition of Palestine after the previously unreleased decision was made public on Wednesday.
President Ivan Duque took office on Tuesday and was informed a few days ago of Santos’ decision, which was detailed in an Aug. 3 letter to the Palestinian representative in Colombia, the Foreign Ministry said.
“Given possible omissions that could come to light about the way in which this decision was taken by the outgoing president, the government will cautiously examine its implications and will act according to international law,” new Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said in a statement.
Santos decided to recognize Palestine as a “free, independent and sovereign state,” according to the letter, which was circulated to reporters by the Foreign Ministry.
“Just as the Palestinian people have a right to constitute an independent state, Israel has a right to live in peace alongside its neighbors,” the letter said.
The Israeli Embassy in Bogota said it was surprised and disappointed.
Fragments from a missile launched into Saudi Arabia from Yemen by Houthi forces killed one civilian and wounded 11, Saudi state media said on Thursday.
The Houthis, an Iran-allied group that controls much of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, said it fired a missile at the Jizan Industrial City in southern Saudi Arabia, according to the Houthi-run al-Masirah TV.
The kingdom’s air defense forces intercepted the missile, Saudi state news channel al-Ekhbariya said late on Wednesday. State news agency SPA later said one Yemeni resident in Jizan was killed.
“The interception resulted in projection of fragments throughout some residential areas, which caused the martyrdom of a Yemeni resident, and injuries among 11 civilians,” the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war said in a statement reported by SPA on Thursday.
The Houthis have fired dozens of missiles into the kingdom in recent months, part of a three-year-old conflict widely seen as a proxy battle between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. Most have been intercepted by the Saudi military.
Saudi Arabia has executed and crucified a man in the holy city of Mecca amid an escalating human rights fracas between Riyadh and Canada.
Bloomberg reported that Elias Abulkalaam Jamaleddeen, who was from Myanmar, was accused of breaking into a woman’s home, firing a weapon and then stabbing her to death.
Citing the official Saudi Press Agency, Bloomberg said the ruling was endorsed by the king and sanctioned by the country’s Supreme Court.
Crucifixions entail beheading and hanging a body in public after an execution but are relatively rare in the kingdom, although it does liberally enact the death penalty. The kingdom executed more than 2,000 people between 1985 and 2016, according to Amnesty International.
The execution and crucifixion came as a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada grew more bitter after Ottawa criticized the arrests of Saudi activists.
The kingdom took exception to criticism by the Canadian Foreign Ministry over the July arrests of women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah, among others.
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