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Oil Discovered in the Dead Sea


Oil was discovered Wednesday in the Dead Sea by the international petroleum company Genco. Dr. Eli Tenenbaum, an official of the company, said that he expected the oil to be of commercial quality. "We have seen that the pressure at the drill is very high. When we opened the tap the oil flowed freely for several seconds." According to Tenenbaum, drilling has been going on at the site for several weeks. The oil was discovered at a depth of 2000 meters. Additional tests are required to determine the total amount of oil available in the well.

Hizbullah Listened in on IDF Cell Phones

By Ha'aretz

Hizbullah intelligence listened to cell phone conversations by Israelis, including Israel Defense Forces officers, as part of its extensive intelligence gathering operation during the recent Lebanon war.

The organization also eavesdropped electronically on messages sent to pagers; some of these messages were transferred through satellite uplinks.

Just as Hizbullah improved its ability to utilize the antitank weapons it acquired and its network of tunnels and bunkers, both along the border and inside southern Lebanon, it also made significant efforts to improve its intelligence gathering apparatus. This effort was primarily aimed at gathering intelligence on IDF units and their movements, both inside and outside Israel.

This is clearly evident in the way Hizbullah operatives managed to track and map the movement of IDF patrols along the border, and thus plan the July 12 raid and ambush in which eight soldiers were killed and two others kidnapped.

Israel had identified Hizbullah's efforts to improve its intelligence gathering before the outbreak of the war. The matter was raised with then prime minister Ariel Sharon by then Military Intelligence chief Major General Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, who told Sharon that if Israel does not take the necessary countermeasures, the IDF and its activities would increasingly become transparent to Hizbullah intelligence. The issue was also raised by field security officers at meetings of the IDF General Staff.

While Hizbullah has clearly made significant progress in the area of intelligence in general, its main achievements during the war were in tactical intelligence gathering. The organization received training from Syrian and Iranian intelligence officers and manned observation posts along the border, in places such as Maroun al-Ras.

These observation posts were equipped with sophisticated and expensive gear, mostly Western in origin, and during the war, they reported on IDF movements, especially inside Israel. Hizbullah also tried to run agents inside Israel.

The group also operated listening posts, and it seems that it met with some success in this area. For example, if a pager message were sent to reporters in northern Israel, informing them of an expected visit by the IDF chief of staff or the defense minister to a particular location, Hizbullah would most likely have intercepted this information. This would have been sufficient for it to order more intense rocket attacks against that particular area of the north.

Hizbullah also set up a center for the collection of publicly available information on Israel, such as news reports in the Israeli media. The center was also responsible for thoroughly analyzing this data and extracting information of tactical value regarding operational plans, morale in Israel and differing opinions within the country.

Israel has been doing this sort of intelligence gathering for many years. But it seems that Hizbullah has now become adept at this form of intelligence and analysis as well.

UN Accuses Hizbullah, Israel of Violating Humanitarian Law

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

Four U.N. human rights experts said Wednesday that both sides in the recent war in Lebanon, Israel and the Hizbullah terrorists, committed serious human rights violations during the month-long conflict. The investigators are experts in arbitrary executions, health, displaced people and housing.

The experts presented the results of their fact-finding mission in Israel and Lebanon to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The joint report describes what it calls the terrible human consequences of the conflict and the magnitude of the human rights violations. It notes Hizbullah started the war in mid-July by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. This, it says, provoked the Israelis to respond.

The report said actions by both sides caused many deaths and injuries, widespread destruction of homes and public infrastructure. Israeli attacks forced a million people in Lebanon to flee their homes, and Hizbullah missiles forced 300,000 civilians in northern Israel to flee to the south.

Israel's permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, was critical of the report. He said it makes no reference to the responsibility of Lebanon to investigate acts of hostility prepared and perpetrated within its territory.

"We are not aware of any Lebanese investigation into violations of the law of armed conflict by Hizbullah," Levanon said. "Nor has this Council undertaken any investigation of perpetrators of terrorist activities or of the continuous flow of military supplies from neighboring countries to Hizbullah."

Rice Promises Redoubled Efforts to Help Palestinians

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States is very concerned about the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people and will redouble efforts to help them. Her comments come amid rising tension between rival Palestinian factions.

Rice held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and, at a news conference afterward, repeated the need for renewed peace efforts. She also said the increasing economic crisis facing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza figured prominently in the talks.

"I told the President [Abbas], that we are very concerned, of course, about the humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territories, about the economic situation."

Rice promised that the United States would "redouble its efforts to help." That, she indicated, includes talking to Israel about improving access and movement of people and goods to and from Palestinian areas. "I will, of course, see what I can do to make sure that some of these crossings are open longer and more frequently so that economic activity can return."

Rice came to Ramallah from talks in Saudi Arabia and Egypt aimed at bolstering support for President Abbas and a resumption of peace talks.

Her efforts come amid rising tension and a power struggle among Palestinians, pitting President Abbas and his Fatah faction against the Hamas government. A dozen people have been killed in fighting between militants linked to the two factions over the past several days.

Abbas confirmed Wednesday that talks on forming a new unity government have broken down. The president said there is at this time no dialogue with Hamas or with other factions. He also said he would carefully weigh all options available to him, hinting he could dissolve the current Hamas-led government and call for new elections.

Western Wall Rabbi Forbids Proposed Burning of Prayer Notes

By Ha'aretz

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, has decided to forbid the proposed burning of prayer notes that millions of worshipers place in the crevices between the stones of the Wall throughout the year.

The suggestion of burning the notes was raised due to their tremendous quantities - four times a year the Wall's maintenance personnel transfer hundreds of sacks of notes from the wall for burial on the Mount of Olives. Rabinowitz decided against burning the notes, and to continue with the current practice.

This decision is one of many in his recently published book (in Hebrew) "She'elot V'Tshuvot Sha'arei Tzion" (Gates of Zion Questions and Answers), which deals with questions concerning the Western Wall and the holy sites. In his book, Rabinowitz explained that burning the notes could be viewed as degrading to their writers.

And in a related story, a recent innovation at Mini Israel allows visitors to leave notes in the cracks of its miniature Western Wall. The notes will be transferred to the real Western Wall in Jerusalem once a week.

Mini Israel CEO Haim Rogatka said that since the opening of the park, hundreds of thousands of visitors had stood in awe before the miniature Western Wall each year. "It was as if they were standing before the true Western Wall in Jerusalem, the capital city," Rogatka said.

Rogatka spoke of Mini Israel's Satmar Hassidic visitors, who cannot visit the real wall, and said, "They come to Mini Israel, to visit and admire the exact replicate of the original Western Wall." He said that the visiting public demanded replicating the Wall to its smallest detail, including leaving prayer notes between the wall's stones, just like in Jerusalem.

Following much consultation, the park's officials decided to complete the missing detail, and placed a box for prayer notes in the wall's stone built square. Visitors will place notes between the stones from the side of the box, in order to give them a more authentic experience. "We didn't want it to feel like dropping an envelope into an ordinary box," Rogatka explained.

Mini Israel employees promised to collect and convey the notes to Jerusalem weekly, and to place them between the cracks of the true Western Wall.

Baghdad's Last Rabbi to Leave Iraq
Israel Faxx News Services

Baghdad's last remaining rabbi announced on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar that he plans to leave Iraq.

Rabbi Emad Levy, one of about a dozen remaining members of the city's Jewish community, which once topped 100,000, compared his life to "living in a prison" as he broke his Yom Kippur fast Monday evening.

Levy said that his father fled to Israel after Iraq was invaded by the United States in 2003, but he stayed behind to care for a Jewish octogenarian sick with diabetes, The Washington Post reported. Levy said he would exit the country as soon as possible.

Levy said that most Iraqi Jews are homebound out of fear of kidnapping or execution. "It's like I'm living in a prison all the time," he said. "I have no future here. I must go out to have a life for myself.

"What should I do?" he continued. "Of course this is not the way Yom Kippur should be. When you are alone, it is very different than when you do it in the synagogue or with a lot of people. It is sad. This is why I must leave for the Holy Land."

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