U.S. intel: China to keep building on artificial islands
The U.S. intelligence chief says he expects China to keep building on artificial islands to sustain its “exorbitant” territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper implied that China was militarizing those land features, despite an assurance given by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Washington last fall that China did not intend to do so.
Clapper cited the installation of runways, hangars and radars and port calls by Chinese navy and coastguard ships, and test landings by civilian aircraft.
He was speaking at a Senate hearing Feb. 9 on worldwide threats.
Republican committee chairman Sen. John McCain said China had now reclaimed 3,200 acres of land in the Spratly island chain, where Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim territory. AP
Israel’s military chief: Stopping Gaza tunnels top priority
Israel’s military chief says its number one mission is to counter the threat posed by attack tunnels from Gaza.
Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Feb. 9 that Gaza’s Hamas rulers have been rebuilding the sophisticated network of underground tunnels that Israel damaged during the 2014 war.
Eisenkot says destroying this network is the military’s top priority for 2016, adding that it’s not deceived by the relative quiet along the Israel-Gaza border.
Israeli troops destroyed more than 30 tunnels during the war that Hamas built to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks. Hamas has since boasted it has rebuilt its network. Israelis living near the border have reported hearing tunneling sounds under their homes recently.
Hamas says at least 12 of its men died the past month in tunnel collapse accidents. AP