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WHO: Bird Flu May Become Bigger Than SARS

By IsraelNationalNews.com

World Health Organization experts are expressing concern over the spread of bird flu in Asia. To date, three deaths have been attributed to the disease, which appears to have originated in Vietnam; bus cases are being reported in Japan and Southern Korea. Over a million chickens and ducks have been killed in the hope of containing the disease. Officials add that at present, it appears one may only contract the disease by coming in contact with an infected chicken or its waste. While persons have been diagnosed with bird flu, person-to-person infection is not possible, experts are reporting.


Israeli High Court to Consider Legality of Security Barrier

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's high court has agreed to consider the legality of a controversial West Bank security barrier, just weeks before the project is tested under international law. The court decided Thursday that it would be the first forum to consider whether a barrier, now under construction in and around the West Bank, is lawful. A hearing has been set for Feb. 5, about two weeks before Israelis and Palestinians are scheduled to start presenting their arguments on the issue at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The Israeli high court will hear a petition submitted by the Center for the Defense of the Individual - a human rights group. The petition deals with the building of the barrier beyond the so-called Green Line, which delineates Israel from the West Bank. Legal experts in Israel say the hearing will act, in their words, as a dress rehearsal for the Israeli defense counsel's appearance in The Hague.

The International Court is to convene February 23 after the U.N. General Assembly requested a ruling on whether Israel is legally obliged to tear down the barrier.

Some Israeli cabinet ministers are calling for the route of the barrier to be changed before the matter goes to court. Israel's justice minister, Tommy Lapid, has warned the Jewish state risks being brought into international disrepute by crossing this line and constructing some parts of the project inside the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership claims the barrier is an attempt by Israel to seize more land and unilaterally determine the boundaries of a future Palestinian State. Israel denies this and says that the project is meant only to prevent Palestinians from crossing over into the Jewish State to carry out suicide bombings and other terror attacks.

Israel says that the barrier does not constitute a new political boundary and can be dismantled if and when a final peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians.


Israel Seals Gaza Strip

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has sealed the Gaza Strip; a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew herself up at a border crossing. Israel closed the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel, preventing thousands of Palestinians from reaching their jobs. The closure is in response to a suicide bombing that killed three Israeli soldiers and a civilian security guard Wednesday.

Immediately after the bombing, the military announced a closure that has been extended indefinitely. An army statement said the Erez Industrial Park on the border is also closed. About 6,000 Palestinians work there. The army said that only humanitarian cases would be allowed to cross the border. Gaza merchants have also been banned from taking produce into Israel.

The statement did not say how long the measures would remain in effect. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's deputy said a military response should be expected. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israel Radio, "if it requires striking at those planning or setting in motion acts of murder, then we have not refrained from doing so in the past and shall not refrain now."

Brig. Gen. Gadi Shamni, the Israeli military commander in Gaza, also indicated Israel would retaliate for the attack. He told Israel television Israel will know how to respond at the time, place and method of its choosing.

The attack Wednesday was the first time the Islamic militant group Hamas sent a woman on a suicide mission, and signaled a new tactic in circumventing Israeli security checks that focus mainly on Palestinian men. In a videotaped message before the attack, the 21-year-old mother of two said she wanted to turn her body into deadly shrapnel. Israeli soldiers handed her remains over to Palestinians in Gaza in two white sacks.


Helping Israel From Abroad

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Merely by changing spending habits, Jewish families living abroad can inject some 7 billion shekels a year into the Israeli economy - for a net gain of 20,000 new jobs. How? By making sure to spend only $50 each month on Israeli products.

The Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization, and the White and Blue Mission of the Israeli Manufacturers Association have begun a joint campaign to promote the purchase of Israeli goods abroad. Arutz-7 reported that the $50-a-month shift could lead to a 3 percent increase in Israel's industrial sales. Purposeful spending of this nature, it is thought, could also lead to greater solidarity and identification with the Jewish state.

Israeli-made products can be found on these sites: www.jr.co.il/hotsites/sh-il.htm, http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/buyblueandwhite/, www.jewishuniverse.org and "http://store.yahoo.com/israelnationalnews/





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