Shevat 9, 5770 / Sunday, Jan. 24 ’10
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- Arab Report: Syria Calling Up Reserves
- Signs of Oil in the Negev
- US Terror Blacklist Whitewashes Hamas, Enables Funding
- Barak: NIS 25 Million to Gaza, Every Year
- Netanyahu: ‘No Desire For Conflict With Lebanon’
- Scientists Discover ‘Relapse Gene’ in Children’s Leukemia
- Holocaust Cabinet Meeting: “World is Obligated to Jewish State"
- Israeli Withdrawal from Ghajar Fought By Villagers, MKs
1. Arab Report: Syria Calling Up Reserves
by Gil Ronen
Tensions have escalated along the Israeli-Lebanese border and Syria has begun calling up troops from its Fourth Reserve, sources told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat.
The newspaper, printed on four continents, reports that the Israeli military has been carrying out drills on Israel’s northern frontier, as the second anniversary of the death of senior Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh approaches. Mughniyeh was killed when a car bomb exploded in Damascus on February 13, 2008.
“Well-informed Lebanese sources” told the newspaper that Hizbullah is on a state of alert in the face of IDF “military maneuvers.” The sources added that Hizbullah is concerned Israel may launch a surprise attack on its bases and posts. "Israel has accustomed us to aggression and we are used to being vigilant and on the lookout all the time. That is what we are doing,” a source said.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, in Paris, said that “France does not expect that there will be an Israeli military offensive” at present. However, he expressed concern that “some Iranian leaders” might try to cause escalation in southern Lebanon.
‘Heading for Battle’
"Without a doubt, we are heading for another round [of battle with Hizbullah] in the north," Cabinet Minister Yossi Peled said Saturday. Peled, who was the head of Israel’s Northern Command, said at an event in Be’er Sheva that "no one knows" when a conflict will occur, “but it’s clear that it will happen."
The Prime Minister’s office issued a response contradicting Peled’s remark. "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wishes to make clear that the State of Israel has no desire for any conflict with Lebanon,” it said.
The current Head of Northen Command, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkut, called the reports about tension on the northern border “virtual reality.”
2. Signs of Oil in the Negev
by Hillel Fendel
A joint venture near the Negev city of Arad has produced “preliminary indications” of an oil reserve, the drillers announced.
The venture is a partnership of Zerach Oil Exploration Ltd., which owns 50%, and Avner Oil Ltd. and Delek Drilling Ltd, which own 25% each. The three companies notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) on Sunday that they had found oil at the Tzuk Tamrur 4 oil exploration well, west of the Dead Sea. They emphasized that they do not yet know if the quantities found are commercial.
The Tzuk Tamrur 4 drilling began three months ago, after seismic studies indicated that 6.6 million barrels of high-quality oil could be found there. The drilling has reached a depth of 2,040 meters, and the partners plan to keep on going until they reach 2,150 meters.
"When the drilling is complete,” the partners stated, “electrical logs [a form of underground testing – ed.] will be conducted, which will take several days, after which an announcement will be made, including whether the partners decide if it is worthwhile to carry out well production tests."
Just last month, the Givot Olam Oil Exploration company announced it had found a very large amount of oil and gas below the city of Rosh HaAyin in central Israel. Recently, Noble Energy said it had discovered more than 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea, about 90 kilometers from Haifa.
3. US Terror Blacklist Whitewashes Hamas, Enables Funding
by Shimon Cohen and Gil Ronen
The United States Treasury has taken all but one member of Hamas off the international list of terrorists, thus enabling funds from the European Union to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza.
It is an open secret that large sums of money from the EU flow into Gaza in the guise of humanitarian aid and salaries for officials, but are actually funneled into the coffers of Hamas, which controls Gaza with an iron grip. This method of transferring funds into terrorists’ hands could have been blocked by an international lawsuit, but according to journalist Avi Tarango, the United States Treasury has made this impossible by removing all but one Hamas man – Deputy Chairman of the Political Bureau, Musa Abu Marzouk – from the list of international terrorists.
The updated terrorist list, published last week, takes up 443 pages. However, according to Tarango, who went over the list, none of the tens of thousands of people who form Hamas is mentioned – other than Abu Marzuk, who resides in Damascus. The terrorist list is meant for distribution in the world banking system, where the transfer of funds to anyone on the list is prohibited.
Cleared for Funding
Abu Marzouk is listed as having been born in Gaza on February 9, 1951, and as bearing an Egyptian passport with the number 92/664. “While branches of Hamas appear in the list under different names, such as ‘The Students of Ayash,’ ‘The Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza,’ ‘The Iz A-Din El-Kassam Battalions,’ the rest of Hamas’s men do not appear on the list at all,” Tarango said.
"Musa Abu-Marzouk’s presence on the list means that whoever tries to transfer money to him personally will be rejected by the world banking system and be accused of funding terrorism, but the transfer of funds to any other Hamas man will not arouse suspicion,” he explained.
According to published reports and other sources, the journalist said, the EU sends millions of Euros every month to cover the salaries of 77,000 employees of the Palestinian Authority and about 70,000 recipients of welfare aid in Gaza.
“EU laws define Hamas as a terror organization and therefore the EU people need to verify on a name-by-name basis that none of the people receiving salaries and support is a terrorist,” Tarango said. “This is done by the EU’s cash transfer mechanism, PEGASE, which verifies that none of the recipients of salaries are members of Hamas’s police force or activists of the military wing of Hamas, by comparing the names as received from the PA treasury department with the list of international terror activists. However, since the newly-updated list contains no Hamas officials except for Marzouk, the European check will find nothing and the funds for Gaza salaries will be transferred in whole to the Gaza banks.”
4. Barak: NIS 25 Million to Gaza, Every Year
by Hillel Fendel
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved, as a "humanitarian" gesture, the annual transfer of 25 million shekels to Gaza. Despite the state of war that essentially exists between the Hamas regime in Gaza and Israel, Haaretz reports that the money will go to Gazans who are eligible for Israeli pension or National Insurance payments.
Israel has declared the Hamas regime as a “hostile” and “terrorist” entity. However, the government has sought ways to transfer the money to those who are technically deserving of it, and has now apparently found it. The transfer of the funds to PA banks in Ramallah, which will send it on to Gaza banks in the names of the beneficiaries, has been approved by the Finance, Justice and Defense Ministries, as well as other Israeli bodies. Hamas has not yet given its assent to the new arrangement, however.
All banks in Israel, except for the governmental Bank of Israel, have cut off their contacts with Gaza. Israel has also long demanded that the international community not transfer money to the Hamas terrorist regime there.
It was learned last week that Israel had paid the United Nations $10.5 million “as a goodwill gesture” for damages caused to UN buildings and property in Gaza during Israel’s anti-terrorism Operation Cast Lead last year.
5. Netanyahu: ‘No Desire For Conflict With Lebanon’
by Malkah Fleisher
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office responded Saturday to media reports that Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled (Likud) said a military conflict between Israel and Lebanon is "inevitable."
"Without a doubt, we are heading for another round [of battle with Hizbullah] in the north," said Peled at a Saturday event in the Negev city of Beer Sheva. "No one knows when, but it’s clear that it will happen."
Peled was the former General of Israel’s Northern Command.
The Prime Minister’s office issued a response contradicting Peled’s remark. "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is making it clear that the State of Israel has no desire for any conflict with Lebanon. The face of Israel is set toward peace with her neighbors, according to the Prime Minister."
At the event, Peled added that "Israel’s primary goal is to ensure the existence of the Jewish state forever," he said. "Lebanon is the only country in the region in which there is a military organization that is not part of the state. It seems we are heading toward a confrontation in the north, but no one can tell when it will happen".
Also Saturday, The Washington Post reported that the powerful Lebanese terror organization, Hizbullah, had moved long-range missile launching pads into areas of northern Lebanon and the Bekaa valley, despite a UN presence in those areas.
Hizbullah has been armed and funded in the past by Iran under the leadership of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The IDF reports that the terror group has Iranian-made Fajr missiles in their arsenal, the same kind of rockets used against Israel 3 and a half years ago in the Second Lebanon War.
6. Scientists Discover ‘Relapse Gene’ in Children’s Leukemia
by Hana Levi Julian
Researchers at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital have achieved a major breakthrough in the fight for to cure T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or T-ALL. This form of cancer affects mostly children and teenagers, although adults are attacked, rarely, by the disease as well.
In Israel, approximately 45 new cases of T-ALL are diagnosed each year (a statistic quoted in a 1998 study published by O. Blau in the medical journal, Leukemia Research (Vol. 22, Issue 6)). The disease accounts for some 80 percent of all childhood leukemias in the Jewish State.
According to a study published last week in the journal Science, the LMO2 gene, with its stem-cell-like properties, was identified as that which was able to recover its equilibrium and reassert its ability to grow following the traditional cancer-killing treatments.
Australian research leader Dr. David Curtis said the team he worked with had managed to identify the LMO2 gene that resembled a stem cell, remaining hidden when the cancer appeared to have been eradicated. The stem cell-like gene would eventually reappear – immune to the chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow transplants used to kill the disease in other cases – and cause life-threatening relapse in 25 percent of cases.
The LMO2 gene also contains a cysteine-rich, two-LIM (Lin 11, Isl-1 & Mec-3) domains’ protein called rhombotin-like 1, known by the same name, “LMO2”.
Principal investigator Dr. Matthew McCormack noted that the cellular origins of this particular type of leukemia “are not well understood… Our discovery that these cells are similar to normal stem cells explains why they are capable of surviving for long periods. It also explains why they are remarkably resistant to treatment."
The researchers are presently working on creating medications to eradicate those cells.
“We can now study it, work out how it is resistant to normal chemotherapy and radiation, and work out better ways to kill those cells, so we can cure not 75 percent of children, but all children,” Curtis explained.
McCormack added that some of the work is also being focused on the thymus cells in hopes of reducing the length and toxicity of the treatment and preventing relapses.
The thymus, a small organ in the upper chest, protects the human body against infections, making it significant in leukemia and other diseases that involve the immune system. The research team discovered that 99 percent of the cells of the thymus gland were destroyed during radiation therapy.
7. Holocaust Cabinet Meeting: “World is Obligated to Jewish State"
by Hillel Fendel
The government has dedicated today’s meeting to the memory of the six million Jews starved, tortured and massacred in the Holocaust. This Wednesday, the United Nations and at least 20 countries will mark International Holocaust Day.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, speaking at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, said, “I hope the United Nations will remember what happened when the Jews did not have a state – and the privilege and obligation of the international community to defend the Jewish State’s existence.”
The date of January 27 was chosen for this purpose in 2005 because it was the day, in 1945, that the Russian Army liberated the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp. Germany, Britain and some other countries commemorated Holocaust Day on this date even before the UN adopted it.
Former Israel Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, who survived the Holocaust as a child, participated in the special Cabinet session. Rabbi Lau also serves as Chairman of Yad VaShem.
Netanyahu displayed a photograph of a survivor holding her great-granddaughter’s hand. The survivor’s tattooed number is clearly visible on her arm, and the photo will be displayed at the UN as well.
“This is the essence of the history of Zionism,” Netanyahu said.
On Wednesday, a special ceremony will be held at Auschwitz, where about one million Jews were murdered and massacred. Among the participants will be President Shimon Peres, Rabbi Lau, the president and prime minister of Poland, and the Chief Rabbis of Poland and Lodz.
Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the German concentration camps, was named for the two towns the camp in and around which the camp was built; the Germans essentially destroyed the small Polish village of Birkenau to make way for it. Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler designated Auschwitz as the site of the "final solution of the Jewish question in Europe," and it received transport trains of Jews from all over Nazi-occupied Europe for 30 months, until late 1944.
Some 1.1 million people, 90% of them Jews, were killed in the camp’s gas chambers or died of starvation, forced labor, disease, medical experiment, shooting, beatings, and the like.
8. Israeli Withdrawal from Ghajar Fought By Villagers, MKs
by Malkah Fleisher
Knesset Members of the National Union party will be joining Deputy Minister for Regional Development MK Ayoub Kara for a visit to the village of Ghajar on Sunday. Kara (Likud) and the National Union party members will plant trees in the northern and southern parts of the village in order to raise public awareness of the State of Israel’s planned withdrawal from the northern part of the town.
In recent days, the United Nations has expressed its interest in "redoubl[ing]" attempts to provoke Israel to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar, which Israel annexed in 1967. In 2000, the IDF pulled out of northern Ghajar, but re-entered in 2006 as part of the Second Lebanon War. The United Nations aims to place northern Ghajar in the hands of Syria.
Ghajar is inhabited by Alawite Muslims, a minority sect of Shi’ite Muslims who hold an eclectic array of beliefs largely drawing from Islam, but also including some Christian and some secret beliefs.
The National Union opposes withdrawal and has expressed fear of a humanitarian and security disaster if the pullout takes place. Villagers have said they want to remain residents of Israel, and recently held marathon meetings with the President, Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and various ministers and Knesset members in an effort to garner support and prevent the withdrawal.
Ghajar’s Mukhtar (village leader) says his village will fight – to the death – to keep the town together. "We will not allow a fence to separate between brothers, between a father and his son, and tear the heart of the village to pieces," he said. "We will fight for the unity of the village until death."
Deputy Minister Kara, who is a member of Israel’s Druze community, invited the National Union MKs. "Withdrawal from Ghajar would cause a humanitarian disaster and a serious deterioration of security," Kara said. "The villagers vehemently refuse the withdrawal and Israel must not abandon them and repeat the mistake it made with Rafah on the southern border."
Lebanese newspaper A-Nahar reported at the end of 2009 that the IDF will withdraw troops from the northern part of the city at the end of next month. According to the paper, the decision was made following talks between Israel, the United Nations and Lebanon with the collaboration of the United States. If Israel pulls out, 12 UNIFIL soldiers and four Lebanese soldiers will be deployed in the field.
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