Newsletter : 4fax0702.txt
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Arad Employees Protest
About 200 employees of the Municipality of Arad protested Thursday blocking a major
area road. The protest surrounded plans to dissolve the municipality together with Dimona
and incorporate them into the Tamar Regional Council.
Israel Launches Air Strike in Gaza Town of Beit Hanun
An Israel Defense Force ambush on Thursday killed five armed Palestinians who were
approaching the Netzarim Junction, south of the city of Gaza in the Strip. The five were
shot and killed in the southern outskirts of Gaza's Zeitoun neighborhood. According to the
IDF, they were intending to attack the IDF outpost near the junction.
The gunfire exchange lasted for several hours and armed personnel carriers and tanks
eventually evacuated the IDF force from the Gaza neighborhood. Earlier Thursday, Israel
Air Force helicopters fired two missiles at a group of eight people in the northern Gaza
Strip town of Beit Hanun, wounding seven people, Palestinian witnesses said.
The Israel Defense Forces said it had fired at least one missile at a group of
militants who had planted explosives near IDF troops operating near the town. The
Palestinian witnesses confirmed that militants had been operating in the area. They also
said youths had been throwing stones at nearby troops. At least one person in the area was
armed. The IAF helicopter pilots said some of the militants who had been in the area
managed to escape and that it was unclear how many of them were wounded.
Ambulances left the scene, carrying at least four people. Palestinian hospital workers
said none of the injuries was believed to be life threatening. Israel has been carrying
out an offensive in Beit Hanoun, located in the
northern Gaza Strip, to halt Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel. A rocket
attack earlier this week killed two Israelis, including a 3-year-old boy.
Witnesses said late Wednesday that IDF bulldozers had uprooted hundreds of olive trees
in the vicinity of the town of Beit Hanun, and two Palestinians were killed in the area
Wednesday. In the nearby Jabalya refugee camp, IDF soldiers shot and killed a Hamas
militant who had ambushed the troops with gunfire and grenades after dark, and a
16-year-old boy was shot as he tried to plant a Palestinian flag in the ground as other
youths pelted soldiers with stones, Palestinian witnesses said.
Forces are expected to continue operating in the northern Gaza Strip on and off for the
next few months in an effort to prevent Palestinians from firing Kassam rockets into
Israel, military sources said Tuesday night. Military activity in the northern Strip
should not actually be seen as one finite operation but rather as a change in the army's
method of operations involving ongoing periodic incursions into the area from which the
rockets are fired, the sources explained.
Israeli tanks rolled into the Rafah refugee camp early Thursday, sparking a gunfight
with Palestinian militants. A 9-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by machine guns fired
by one of the tanks, Palestinian officials said. In a separate operation launched on
Thursday, large numbers of IDF troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships entered the
West Bank town of Jericho early Thursday in a search for wanted Palestinian militants,
arresting at least 30 suspects.
In Jericho, Palestinian witnesses said that a large number of jeeps accompanied by
tanks entered the desert city early on Thursday, taking up positions in the center of the
city. They said a curfew was imposed on the city, and that shots and at least one blast
were heard. There were no initial reports of injuries. An IDF spokesman confirmed that at
least 30 Palestinians had been arrested, including a few senior wanted men. Troops also
uncovered a large amount of weapons and grenades, the army said.
Jericho, located about 12 miles east of Jerusalem, is one of the quietest communities
in the West Bank. In almost four years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting there have been
only a handful of clashes between Israel forces and Palestinian militants in the area. But
Israel believes that many fugitive militants have sought refuge there, and the
government's appeals to Palestinian Authority security agencies to hand over the wanted
men have gone unanswered, the radio said.
Israeli Security Products Can be Found Around the World
Israeli-designed products - including trashcans, mobile fences, and drones - help
secure sensitive installations all around the world.
Israeli designed explosion-proof trash cans have now been installed throughout New York
City's Penn Station and subway system. Eyal Banai, whose Israel- and Maryland-based
company Mistral Security Inc., designed the cans, explains that the bomb-resistant trash
receptacle have three layers built to withstand up to 10 lbs. of explosives. The innermost
layer is a simple thin bin in which to collect the trash. The middle layer is made of a
patented material that is designed to absorb the blast and direct it upward. The outermost
layer, made of stainless steel or regular steel, expands in a blast and has one weak
point. In the event that a blast gets past the inner layers, the weak point will direct
the explosion in one direction - up. Amtrak began installing the cans about five years
ago, NJ Transit has recently put some in place, and they are credited with saving many
lives in Jerusalem.
The Carmiel-based Trellidor company has developed a protective device it calls a
Trelli-barrier - a mobile fence that can be put up, taken down and adjusted with ease.
Outside eating areas at cafes, restaurants and malls can be easily "surrounded," leaving
open only one entrance/exit but without detracting from the feeling of being outdoors.
The fence sections connect with each other using the Trellidor locking system. The fence
has so far been installed in some 15 Jerusalem eateries, as well as in BP gas stations in
England and the Red Square Mall in Moscow.
Finally, two "Hermes 450" unmanned aircraft, or drones, made by the Israeli company
Elbit Systems, have been assigned to the Arizona border patrol. The drones are being used
to secure a 350-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border that has become the most popular
crossing for illegal immigrants. The remote-controlled drones can fly up to 90 mph,
detect movement 15 miles away, and transmit live pictures of vast stretches of desert and
grasslands during both day and night.
Wiesenthal Demands German Crackdown on Nazi Rallies
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged the German government to outlaw neo-Nazi
gatherings near synagogues, after extremists protested against the construction of one in
the western city of Bochum.
In a letter to Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, the center's associate dean, Rabbi
Abraham Cooper, criticized the Federal Constitutional Court for letting the 200-strong
rally at a synagogue building site go ahead. "We hope that as minister of justice, you
would agree that the very presence of Nazis - old or new - at the site of a synagogue
would constitute, prima facie, a threat to public order and an overt effort at
intimidation of a tiny Jewish minority in Germany," Cooper wrote.
Police said there had been no violence at the demonstration last Saturday, when
neo-Nazis gathered under the slogan "No Tax Money for the Synagogue Construction - for
Freedom of Speech." However, the state prosecutor is investigating Claus-Gerd Cremer, a
senior member of the neo-Nazi party NPD, after police said his speech might have incited
Cooper said Nazis destroyed the original Bochum synagogue on Krystallnacht, Nov. 10,
1938. "While the memory of some German jurists has apparently dimmed, the collective
memory has not, and there must be a way to protect civil liberties of speech and protest
without subjecting any house of worship - Jewish, Muslim or Christian - to the taunts of
fanatic Nazis and racists," Cooper wrote.
'Saddam's WMDs are in Syria'
By Michael D. Evans (Commentary, WorldNetDaily.com)
There is mounting evidence that at least some of Saddam Hussein's missing weapons of
mass destruction are in Syria, smuggled there by the Iraqi dictator for safekeeping before
the beginning of the war. Part of the stockpile the coalition forces have so far failed to
find in Iraq was probably destroyed; part is likely still hidden. But a massively lethal
amount of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons is stored alongside Syria's own
stockpiles of WMDs.
Perhaps more worrisome, there are indications these weapons are not under the control
of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Rather, in a potentially catastrophic palace intrigue,
his sister, Bushra, and her husband, Gen. Assaf Shawkat, the No. 2 in Syria's military
intelligence organization, the Mukhabarat, are said to have made the storage arrangements
with Saddam as part of a bid for power.
On Jan. 5, 2004, Nizar Nayouf, a Syrian journalist who recently defected to France,
said in a letter to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that chemical and biological weapons
were smuggled from Iraq into Syria before the war began, when Saddam realized he would be
attacked by the U.S. Nayouf claimed to know three sites where Iraq's WMDs are kept: in
tunnels under the town of al-Baida in northern Syria, part of an underground factory built
by North Korea for producing a Syrian version of the Scud missile; in the village of Tal
Snan, adjacent to a Syrian Air Force base; and in Sjinsjar, on the border with Lebanon.
Speaking to the British television station ITN on Jan. 9, Nayouf quoted a Syrian
military intelligence official as confirming the three sites. The U.S. intelligence
community had in fact substantiated Nayouf's claims two months before. In a briefing to
defense reporters on Oct. 30, 2003, officials of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency
in Washington released an assessment that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were
transferred to Syria in the weeks before the war began.
The officials said the assessment was based on satellite images of convoys of Iraqi
trucks that poured into Syria in February and March 2003. According to Middle East
Newsline, quoted by WorldTribune.com, most of the intelligence community concluded that at
least some of Iraq's WMDs, along with Iraqi scientists and technicians, was smuggled to
NIMA chief James Clapper, a retired Air Force general and a leading member of the U.S.
intelligence community, told reporters he linked the disappearance of Iraqi WMDs with the
large number of Iraqi trucks that crossed into Syria before and during the U.S. invasion.
The assessment was that these trucks contained missiles and WMD components banned by the
United Nations Security Council.
"I think personally that the [Iraqi] senior leadership saw what was coming and I think
they went to some extraordinary lengths to dispose of the evidence," Clapper said. He said
he is certain that components connected to Iraq's biological, chemical, and nuclear
programs were sent to Syria in the weeks prior to and during the war.
David Kay, the recently resigned head of an American WMD search team in Iraq, confirmed
that part of Saddam's weapons was hidden in Syria, Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported on
Jan. 25, 2004. Kay said he had uncovered conclusive evidence shortly before last year's
U.S. invasion. "We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons, but we know from
some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria
before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD program," Kay said.
Gal Luft, a former analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, confirmed
Iraqi WMDs are hidden in Syria, but not by the regime. "Certain individuals are taking
money and hiding weapons," he told UPI on Feb. 7, 2003, but this is "not
government-sanctioned." Judith Yaphe, a former senior CIA Middle East analyst, agreed,
suggesting the WMD smuggling operation is "palace intrigue." She said in the same UPI
report that Bashar Assad's sister, Bushra, "is the brains. She's much smarter and more
effective than Bashar, and she was disappointed at being passed over and not seeing her
Dr. Dany Shoham of Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies is a
former lieutenant colonel in the IDF Intelligence Corps who specializes in weapons of mass
destruction, particularly bio-chemical warfare. He says it is "likely" at least some of
Saddam's WMDs were hidden in Syria before the war.
"I'd say there are three possibilities: that these weapons were destroyed by the Iraqis
before the war; that they were hidden in Iraq; and that they were smuggled out," Shoham
said. In all probability, some were destroyed, some are still hidden, but some lethal
amount was smuggled to Syria for safekeeping.
"Syria is the No. 1 candidate," Shoham continued, "because of its long, common border
with Iraq, because a number of Iraqi bio-warfare scientists fled to Syria before the war,
and because Syrian President Bashar Assad had a much closer relationship with Saddam than
his late father, Hafez."
"What is strange," said Shoham, "is that, since Saddam was captured - and even before -
the Americans did not relate to the Syrian option. It is as if the U.S. doesn't want to
reveal the fact that Iraqi WMDs are hidden there. It could be that the U.S. cannot yet
confirm this - but another possibility is that the Bush administration knows the answer
and has decided it is not yet time to reveal it. For whatever reason, it may still be too
classified. If there is some political bias involved, the U.S. presidential election
campaign might account for it."
If Syria is indeed safeguarding at least some of Saddam's WMDs, now that Saddam is
history and Iraq has started along the road to democracy, what is likely to happen to
these weapons? "It is not likely that Syria will share them with Hizbullah in Lebanon,"
said Shoham. "It is in Syria's interest to maintain the current relative quiet" along
Lebanon's border with Israel, he said, noting the tension in Syria's relationship with the
U.S., which is about to impose sanctions on Damascus due to its support of terrorism. "The
Syria-Iran interface is very strong and active," he noted. "On the other hand, it is well
to keep in mind that Syria has its own large arsenal of WMDs."
Assuming the U.S. did detect the smuggling, why didn't it stop it? The Bush
administration certainly received advance warning. In December 2002, Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon announced on television that Saddam had hidden chemical and
biological weapons of mass destruction in Syria. "We believe, and I say it has not been
completely verified, that weapons he [Saddam] wants to hide - chemical and biological
weapons - have been smuggled into Syria," Sharon said on Israel's Channel 2.
A senior Israeli intelligence official said afterward the Iraqi WMDs included mobile
biological facilities mounted in trailer trucks, as well as chemical munitions. He said
the U.S. had examined evidence provided by Israel. "We have solid evidence," the official
said. "This is not a hunch or speculation."
Israel's warning was repeated some three months later. On March 31, 2003, a senior
Israel Defense Forces intelligence officer, Intelligence Research Department head Brig.
Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iraqi
chemical and biological weapons are probably hidden in Syria, Israel Radio reported.
According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Syria has the largest and most
advanced chemical warfare capability in the Middle East, including chemical warheads for
Scud ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, chemical gravity bombs for delivery by
aircraft, and chemical warheads for artillery shells. It has an estimated CW stockpile in
the hundreds of tons, including Sarin, VX and mustard gas.
It appears Syria is not about to transfer WMDs to Hizbullah in Lebanon, since it is not
in its interest to invite massive Israeli retaliation for a WMD attack. According to Dr.
Boaz Ganor, head of Israel's International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism, Syria
cultivates other terrorist groups that are committed to Israel's destruction, such as
Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "But in the present constellation, when world focus is on Syria,
it would not be rational for Damascus to transfer WMDs to these groups and invite a
massive U.S. response," he said.
The White House has maintained it lacks hard evidence to back Nayouf's reports of Iraqi
WMDs smuggled to Syria. "I want to be very clear: We don't, at this point, have any
indications that I would consider credible and firm that that has taken place. But we will
tie down every lead," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters in
Washington on Jan. 10, 2004.
Another former Israeli Intelligence official said Washington's unwillingness to believe
the Israeli reports is basically political, having to do with the president's re-election
campaign: "The Bush administration does not want to confront the Syrians, even though they
are bad news and working all along with Saddam," he said.
Perhaps the Bush administration feels constrained during a re-election campaign about
taking on another despot possessing WMDs, while it still has forces on the ground in Iraq.
But the same justification that powered regime change in Iraq still exists - it has just
moved to the dictatorship next door.
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