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Israel Asks Japan for Support

By VOA News

Israel's foreign minister says that Iran is a threat to all of the Middle East. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called for international support for governments run by moderates, such as in Jordan, to counter Iran.

She said that Iran, which the United States and other governments suspect of seeking to build nuclear weapons, is not only a threat to Israel but to the Middle East.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said Tokyo invited Livni to upgrade relations. Last year, when former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Israel, the two governments agreed to seek regular high-level meetings.

Israel Urges Silence on U.S. Weapons to Palestinians


Israeli leaders are pressuring senior officials in the Israeli Defense Forces to put aside reservations regarding U.S. plans to train, finance and arm militias associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, WND has learned.

The senior IDF officials fear some of the U.S. aid, weapons and equipment slated to be provided to the Palestinians will be used to attack the Jewish state, according to defense sources.

The Israeli army officials have petitioned to make their objections public in conversations with U.S. and European diplomats, defense sources said. "We are being pressured from the (Israeli) political echelon not to interfere with American plans to provide weapons and equipment to Fatah," said a senior IDF source. "The concerns are that the weapons and equipment will be shared with elements of Fatah that regularly attack Israeli troops and plan attacks against Israeli civilians.

"We've been told this (American aid) is a decision for the prime minister and minister of Defense and that our public objections are inappropriate," the IDF source told WND.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week told reporters the U.S. is working with Fatah to create a unified Palestinian security force, which she said would combine Fatah factions and afford more control over the distribution of American aid and weapons.

The Bush administration reportedly will grant $86.4 million to strengthen the Fatah forces, including Force 17, Abbas' security detail, which also serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The U.S. aid is meant to bolster Fatah, which the U.S. considers moderate, against Hamas. Fatah and Hamas have engaged in weeks of deadly factional clashes after Abbas' call last month for new Palestinian elections in a move widely seen as an attempt to dismantle the Hamas-led PA.

Referring to the weapons previously supplied to Fatah with little control over distribution, Rice stated, "It was envisioned that the Palestinian Authority would have security forces. The problem is those security forces broke [up] into essentially personal militias under Arafat. They broke into too many that were often warring with each other."

Rice announced U.S. military envoys in Israel created "a plan for security forces that can be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And this plan is not just to equip them and train them, [but] it is also to professionalize them, to unify them, to put them under a single command."

"This is a train-and-equip program that is going to move over time," Rice said, "so it is not as if you simply arm the Palestinians on Day One and then have no input or control over what happens from then on. I think as a result you can maintain some control on what is being done."

According to Palestinian security sources speaking to WND, Fatah's strongman in Gaza, Mahmoud Dahlan, has been tasked with leading the effort to create the unified Fatah security forces under the auspices of Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

WND has learned the new unified Fatah forces, currently being set up in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, are set to include leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror organization from Nablus and Jenin in the northern West Bank and from the Brigade's leadership in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the declared "military wing" of Fatah. Together with Islamic Jihad, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed U.S. teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis. The Brigades also has carried out scores of deadly shooting and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in recent months.

According to sources in the Brigades, Dahlan held a series of meetings in recent weeks with the terror group's northern West Bank leadership, members of which also serve as officials in Fatah's Preventative Security Services, a major Palestinian police force. Dahlan told the Brigades leaders who are also members of the Preventative Security Services they would be part of the new U.S.-backed unified forces, which the U.S. expects to fight against Hamas, the Brigades sources said.

"Dahlan said he is with us. Whatever we need, arms, money, it will be provided to us as part of the new (unified) security forces," a senior Brigades leader said. "The project this time is supposed to be arming Fatah against Hamas, but Allah forbid, I will never shoot against my brothers in Hamas," the Brigades leader said. "The weapons and aid will protect the institutions of Fatah and be used to fight Israeli occupation."

All Brigades leaders are also members of Fatah. Abbas last June appointed senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was arrested by Israel in November, was on the Jewish state's most-wanted list of terrorists. Scores of Brigades leaders openly serve as members of Force 17.

Senior Brigades leaders in Nablus told WND they previously participated in American training programs. Among American-trained Brigades leaders is a terrorist who openly boasts of carrying out anti-Israel shooting attacks and involvement in planning four suicide bombings.

Abu Yousuf, a Fatah militant from Abba's Force 17 security forces who also serves in the Brigades, told WND while some of the new U.S. aid and weapons may be used in confrontations against Hamas, the bulk of the American arms and training to Fatah would be utilized to "hit the Zionists."

"If Israel will deliver what it promised to Abu Mazen (Abbas), [meaning a] withdrawal from Palestinian lands, including east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, remove all the checkpoints in the West Bank, release our prisoners, and find a clear solution for our refugees, we'll control our forces and the distribution of weapons

"But if Israel doesn't deliver, and we find ourselves manipulated by Israel, we cannot guarantee members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Force 17 will not use these weapons against Israel. Our goal is to change the occupation," said Abu Yousuf. "It's unnatural to think these American weapons won't be used against the Israelis."

Meanwhile, Muhammad Abdel-Al, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees terror organization, told WND his group would infiltrate the new unified security force aided by the U.S. "We have members in the Fatah security organizations, including in Force 17, who will be a part of this American training," Abdel-Al said. "There are activists in Fatah affiliated with all the Palestinian groups, including ours, and Hamas. We vow that should (American) arms reach us, we will use them against the occupation and the Zionist enemy."

The Popular Resistance Committees is a coalition of several Palestinian terror groups and is responsible for scores of anti-Israel shootings and rocket attacks. The Committees is also accused of carrying out a bombing in 2003 on a U.S. convoy in Gaza in which three U.S. contractors were killed.

A Committees leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WND members of his organization who serve in Fatah security forces, including those slated for U.S. training, have been instructed to pledge allegiance to Abbas and keep their membership in the Committees confidential.

Also, Abu Oubaida, a spokesman for Hamas so-called "military wing," told WND last week his terror group will obtain any weapons transferred to Fatah militias or purchased by Fatah using the incoming U.S. aid.

"I am sure that like in the past, this $86 million from America will find its way to the Hamas resistance via the honorable persons in the Fatah security organizations, including in Force 17. I can confirm 100 percent that this money and purchased weapons will find its way to Hamas," said Abu Oubaida.

The Hamas spokesman and other Hamas officials said "scores" of Fatah militants have switched over to Hamas in recent months. Sources close to Hamas said the Fatah militants, including members of Force 17, worked with Hamas after receiving larger paychecks from the terror group. "When they join Hamas, they bring along their new weapons," said a Hamas source.

Arab Convert Arrested For Aiding Jihad Brother


An Arab who converted to Judaism and moved from the PA to Haifa was indicted Thursday for conspiring with the enemy and contacting a foreign agent – his brother, an Islamic Jihad terrorist.

Assaf Ben-David, born Hussam Hafez Mahmoud Suafta, converted to Judaism and left the PA-controlled village of Tubas, near Shechem once he received Israeli citizenship. He recently returned to Islam after living for years as a Hareidi-religious Jew and is accused of trying to pass materials for manufacturing explosives to his brother Salah, a member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group

Salah was killed on December 20th in clashes with the IDF in Tubas before he could receive the nitric acid from his brother.

Hussam Suafta, 39, was arrested a number of times for taking part in riots and anti-Israel attacks during the Intifada of the late 1980s. He worked in Israel illegally and in 1993 began the conversion process, even enrolling in a Jerusalem yeshiva. Three years later he received Israeli citizenship and changed his name to Assaf Ben-David. He later married a Jewish woman, adopted her children from a previous marriage and received the status of an oleh chadash, a new immigrant to Israel.

Hussam was in touch with Salah by telephone in recent months and met with him in Jenin in October, when he agreed to procure a large amount of nitric acid. The two developed codes in order to evade detection and Salah gave Hussam several SIM cards to be used to evade Israeli surveillance.

Salah was killed resisting arrest on December 20th and Hussam converted to Islam anew just before he was apprehended on December 26. Two of Suafta's brothers are also in Israeli prisons after taking part in plans to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel recently.

Israeli Scientists Developing Ways to Fix Heart and Brain


Israeli researchers at the Technion in Haifa have created beating heart tissue from stem cells while Weizmann Institute scientists have found an enzyme that may be able to prevent brain damage.

Technion scientists Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Prof. Lior Gepstein have successfully used embryonic stem cells to create blood vessels within the tissue, which should enable its incorporation into the heart's vascular system.

The researchers created the heart tissue through differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into heart muscle and endothelial cells. They then grew the two together with fibroblasts, embryonic supporting cells.

The advance, according to the Circulation Research Journal that wrote up the study, could eventually enable the repair of heart tissue caused by heart disease and heart attacks. Tissue irreversibly dies during a heart attack when blood is cut off to a section of the heart.

"Without this system, acceptance could be prolonged and the cells could die during this time period," Levenberg told Israel21c. "In our work, we demonstrated the importance of the endothelial cells (cells that build blood vessels), which encourage differentiation of the heart cells and their organization, in addition to their multiplication. That is - it is important to create heart cell tissue, with all its component cells, in this case the endothelial cells, heart cells and cells that support the blood vessels."

The growth of the cells took place on a special porous and biodegradable scaffold designed by the Technion researchers.

The next step is examining whether such tissue, implanted in the heart, would gain acceptance and be incorporated by the heart into the larger vascular system. Levenberg is optimistic. She believes that the development will one day lead to a cure to degenerative diseases. Scientific American Journal named her one of the world's 50 leading scientists in 2006 for her work.

Another development, discovered by scientists at the Weizmann Institute, may facilitate the revival of dead brain cells caused by head trauma, stroke or disease.

The new method gets rid of excess glutamate, which floods damaged areas of the brain, leading to the death of larger areas after a trauma. Glutamate carries impulses from one nerve cell to another. When brain cells are damaged, it spills out and overexcites the cells it touches, killing them as well.

Weizmann Institute Prof. Vivian Teichberg, Prof. Yoram Shapira of the Soroka Medical Center and Dr. Alexander Zlotnik of Ben Gurion University of the Negev have developed a possible solution that may bypass many of the delivery problems with the drugs available for the purpose.

They discovered that a certain enzyme injected into the blood of rats acted to contain and absorb the glutamate as it spilled into the brain, preventing most of the damage. The method will next be tested in clinical trials to examine whether it could have a similar effect on a human brain.

Iranian Minister: Zionist Attack on Iran is Suicide


Iran's Minister of Defense, Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, has described "recent rumors" of an Israeli plan to strike Iranian nuclear facilities as a "psychological operation," adding that such an attack would be a "suicidal act for the Zionist regime," according to a report released Thursday by the Fars News Agency.

On January 7, the London Sunday Times published a report in which it was claimed that "Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons."

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Sudanese minister of defense, who is visiting Tehran, the Fars News Agency said Najjar was responding to "the recent rumors about the likely invasion of the Iranian nuclear sites by the Zionist regime."I think they are not stupid enough to even think about such an action, because their smallest move will confront the most severe response by Tehran, which will make them regret the action for ever," Najjar was quoted as saying.

"This is a bluff which serves psychological operation and aims to assess the reaction of the Iranian people and officials," Najjar added. According to the report, the Iranian defense minister also said that "the Israelis have taken back their utterances in this regard."

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