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An Israeli army officer walks near the entrance of a tunnel allegedly used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza border. A network of tunnels Palestinian militants have dug from Gaza to Israel is taking center stage in the latest war between Hamas and Israel. (AP)

Gaza's Network Of Tunnels Is A Major Hole In Israel's Defenses

Jul 30, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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An Israeli army officer gives journalists a tour on July 25 of a tunnel allegedly used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza border.

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Israeli officials say the country's deadly ground offensive won't end until its soldiers destroy a vast network of Hamas tunnels the militants use to try to attack Jewish communities outside the Gaza Strip.

Three more soldiers died Wednesday when explosives detonated as they uncovered one of those tunnels. That came hours after Hamas released a graphic video claiming to show another deadly tunnel-generated attack inside Israel earlier in the week.

Such incidents have many Israelis asking why their forces didn't stop Hamas from building the elaborate tunnels in the first place. And in Israel, calls are mounting for an investigation into how authorities have handled the tunnel threat.

In the grainy video released by Hamas Wednesday, black-clad militants shove their weapons through a tunnel entrance, then climb out and run toward what looks like an army post inside Israel.

Five Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack Tuesday — which the video purportedly shows — as were a handful of Hamas fighters. Israeli officials say the militants' aim was to kill and kidnap Israeli citizens.

Such revelations are rattling Israelis more than the 2,000-plus rockets Hamas has fired into their country since the war began earlier this month, says Smadar Perry, who writes about the tunnels for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.

"If we don't finish the problem of the tunnels, people in the southern part of Israel along the border with Gaza may leave their houses and go look for a new address because nobody wants to go to sleep and wake up with the killers and terrorists in his bedroom," says Perry, who is the paper's Middle East editor.

But she and other journalists say Israeli authorities will likely have to answer for how Hamas was able to build enough tunnels to allow militants to infiltrate Israel six times since the Gaza offensive began three weeks ago.

An investigation by Israel's state comptroller in 2005 found "continued failure" in dealing with the tunnel problem due to issues with technology and intelligence. The Israeli military only intensified its efforts to deal with the tunnel threat in December 2004 — after a number of major attacks — but it wasn't enough, the state comptroller concluded.

At the time, the inquiry called for bringing in more international and Israeli experts to find better ways to detect tunnels.

At a briefing earlier this week, Yuval Steinitz, Israel's intelligence minister, defended the way authorities have dealt with the tunnels. The military says 32 have been uncovered so far; half of those have been destroyed.

"You know it is not always the case that if we have threats we decide to immediately go to a big ground operation in order to neutralize it," Steinitz said.

Perry, however, says she found few officials who were concerned about the tunnels before some of the newer, more sophisticated versions were accidentally uncovered earlier this year.

The journalist toured one of them with a senior Israeli officer.

"It was very strange," Perry says. "I could feel or I could sense that the officer and the military feel helpless because these four tunnels were exposed by coincidence because of the heavy rains and not because of intelligence."

Military officials deny they are negligent in tackling the tunnels and say they used both intelligence and technology to plot them.

But what they and their critics agree on is that previous encounters with the tunnels — most of which ran between the Gaza Strip and Egypt — were less worrying because they were mainly used for smuggling.

Israeli officials say it wasn't until Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and Hamas took over the territory in 2007 that a labyrinth was created to send militants into Israel for large-scale attacks. Because Jewish settlements were gone, officials say, it made it more difficult to keep tabs on what Hamas was doing.

Israeli Reserve Brig. Gen. Shimon Daniel, who headed the combat engineering force between 2003 and 2007, says it wasn't easy to uncover tunnels even back then, because they aren't deep enough for ground penetration radar to locate.

He says Israel adapted foreign technology used to find oil and gas reserves to come up with a way to locate tunnels.

The newer tunnels are easier to find, Daniel adds, because they are far longer and heavily reinforced.

"Unlike what it was like during my time, they are put together with communications [capabilities], air, electricity, cement walls and other materials," he says.

All of this means they show up better on radar.

But not so their entrances into Israel, because they are too close to the surface for radar to locate.

"It looks simple, but it's complicated. It's low-tech that high-tech doesn't even know how to find," he explains. "It borders on the abilities of what modern physics can do today."

Nor can they be seen by the naked eye, Daniel adds, because they aren't dug open until the actual attack.

He adds that as many as 11 tunnel entrances into Israel have been uncovered so far.

Daniel Estrin contributed to this report.

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The aisles and food cases are largely empty inside a Market Basket in Somerville, Mass. Workers have disrupted operations. (WBUR)

Grocery Chain Workers Want Their CEO Back

by Curt Nickisch
Jul 30, 2014 (All Things Considered / WBUR)

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Rank-and-file Market Basket employees show support for ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

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If your boss was fired, would you walk off the job in protest?

That's what's happening at the New England grocery store chain Market Basket, which has 25,000 employees. Business at Market Basket stores has slowed to a trickle as workers disrupt operations, stage protests and ask shoppers to stay away.

They say CEO Arthur T. Demoulas treats them well and they want him reinstated.

Outside the Market Basket store in Somerville, Mass., a dozen workers wave protest signs as cars honk in support. Gabriel Pinto, a bagger, says he wants the new top executives gone.

"We're here to get support from all the customers and try and make sure no one comes in. We want Artie T. back," Pinto says.

He's referring to Arthur T., not his cousin and boardroom rival Arthur S. Demoulas. Their battle for control of the company has now spilled over into the 71 supermarkets.

Inside the Somerville store, only three checkout aisles are open. None of them have lines. The entire produce section is barren.

At the deli counter at the back of the store, Adelaide Leonardo is stocking the display case with cheese that may just end up spoiling. Fliers are taped to the glass. One says: "Boycott Market Basket." Another says: "Bring back A-T-D, our one true leader."

Leonardo agrees. "We know everybody, we know the customers," she says. "We are family here."

Yet family is the reason Market Basket is in a muddle. Cousins Arthur T. and Arthur S. are both grandsons of a Greek immigrant, also named Arthur Demoulas, who opened a small grocery in working-class Lowell, Mass., nearly a century ago. Two of his sons grew it into a regional supermarket chain. Their sons have been feuding for decades. An epic legal battle between the two in the 1990s featured a courtroom fistfight. Last month, Arthur S. gained control of the board and ousted Arthur T. That's when workers surprised themselves with their power to grind business to a standstill.

"We're gonna survive. We stay strong," says store manager Daniel Rivera, who's been at the company for 24 years. Rivera says workers are fiercely loyal to the ousted CEO for treating them well. Everyone gets quarterly bonuses. The pay is decent. Rivera says Arthur T. Demoulas often came through the stores, making it clear he cares more about people than money.

"Like I say, I work in different companies before and I never have owners come in to me and say, 'How you doing today?' or 'How's your family?' It's great," Rivera says.

Those loyal workers have brought the company to its knees. Market Basket is losing an estimated $10 million per day.

John Davis, the head of the Families in Business Program at Harvard Business School, says there's still time for the two Demoulas cousins to put aside their egos and save the company.

"Hopefully, there's enough love in this family, not for one another anymore but for the legacy of their fathers, that this family will do the right thing and recreate a stable ownership group," Davis says.

As the deadlock drags on into its second week, the board is discussing its options behind closed doors. Meanwhile, workers say they won't give up until they win.

Copyright 2014 WBUR. To see more, visit http://www.wbur.org.

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U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara applauded a judge's ruling in a major fraud case. (AP)

Judge Orders Bank Of America To Pay $1.3 Billion Fine

by Alan Greenblatt
Jul 30, 2014 (WBUR)

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Rank-and-file Market Basket employees show support for ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

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A federal judge has ordered Bank of America to pay a $1.27 billion fine for fraud perpetrated by Countrywide Financial Corp., a mortgage company the bank acquired in 2008.

Last October, a jury held Bank of America liable for bad loans Countrywide sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of its "Hustle" mortgage-lending program as the housing market soured in 2007 and 2008.

In his ruling Wednesday, Federal District Judge Jed Rakoff did not mince words.

"It was from start to finish the vehicle for a brazen fraud by the defendants, driven by a hunger for profits and oblivious to the harms thereby visited, not just on the immediate victims but also on the financial system as a whole," Rakoff wrote.

He based his penalty on 17,611 Hustle-related loans, for which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac paid nearly $3 billion. The damages reflected a finding that while some of the loans were defective, they weren't all bad.

The government had sought penalties of $2.1 billion.

"Today, Judge Rakoff imposed stiff penalties in a case brought by this Office to punish and deter the fraudulent and reckless lending activities of a financial institution leading up to the financial crisis in 2008," Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, said in a statement.

Bank of America said it would review its options.

"We believe that this figure simply bears no relation to a limited Countrywide program that lasted several months and ended before Bank of America's acquisition of the company," Bank of America spokesman Lawrence Grayson said, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Rakoff also fined Rebecca Mairone, a former top Countrywide manager, $1 million. The jury had found her guilty on one count of fraud. Rakoff said she could pay the fine in installments.

Separately, Bank of America is coming close to settling with the Justice Department to resolve issues with its sale of mortgage-backed bonds, Bloomberg News reports. The amount under discussion ranges from $13 billion to $17 billion, and negotiations are ongoing as to what the split should be between fines and consumer relief.

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U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara applauded a judge's ruling in a major fraud case. (AP)

A Market And A School Come Under Fire During A Violent Day In Gaza

Jul 30, 2014 (All Things Considered / WBUR)

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Rank-and-file Market Basket employees show support for ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara applauded a judge's ruling in a major fraud case. (AP)

Senators Roll Out A Bill To Curb Sexual Assault On Campus

Jul 30, 2014 (All Things Considered / WBUR)

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Rank-and-file Market Basket employees show support for ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

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