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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

By Ha'aretz

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

By Reuters

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 racial hatred.

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,

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, most of the intelligence community concluded that at least some of Iraq's WMDs, along with Iraqi scientists and technicians, was smuggled to Syria.

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 husband elevated."

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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