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Rice: Iranian Tests Prove Missile Defense Needed

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Wednesday's tests of missiles by Iran "evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one."

"Those who say that there is no Iranian missile threat against which we should build a missile defense system perhaps ought to talk to the Iranians about their claims.


Iran Test-Fires Missile It Claims Can Reach Israel

By IsraelNationalNews.com & VOA News

Iran claims that one of the missiles it test-fired Wednesday can reach Israel, according to reports on Iranian state media. The missile was one of nine medium- and long-range rockets that were fired in the latest test of the Islamic Republic's arsenal of advanced weaponry.

The tests of the new Shihab-3 missiles came at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and Israel. While Iran develops its disputed nuclear program and regularly threatens Israel with annihilation, Israel is said to be weighing the option of a pre-emptive strike on Iran similar to the one made on Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981.

Iran has repeatedly denied the charge that it is developing nuclear weapons, claiming that its nuclear program is only for power generation. However, a top Iranian official recently threatened the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to any attack on Iran.

Iran's state television network reported that the missiles test, conducted by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, included a "new" Shihab-3 missile, which Iranian officials earlier claimed could reach targets 1,250 miles away, including Israel as well as American bases in the area.

An aide to the Ayatollah, Iran's Supreme Leader, said on Tuesday that if Iran was attacked, the Islamic Republic would first hit Tel Aviv, as well as US shipping in the Persian Gulf and US interests around the world.

The comments by the Iranian official escalated tensions by raising fears of military confrontation. The war of words is also blamed for the record high oil prices of the last few weeks.

At a summit of the Group of Eight (G8) countries in Japan, G8 leaders voiced serious concern at the threats posed by Iran's nuclear program. In a statement following the meeting, the group called on Iran to suspend its program, including all activities related to the enrichment of uranium.

Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill last month. U.S. leaders have not ruled out military options if diplomacy fails to end the nuclear row.

Revolutionary Guards air force commander Hossein Salami said in televised comments that thousands of missiles were ready to be fired at "pre-determined targets." Missiles were shown soaring from desert launch pads, leaving long vapor trails.

"Our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready for launch," the official IRNA news agency quoted Salami as saying Wednesday. "We warn the enemies who intend to threaten us with military exercises and empty psychological operations that our hand will always be on the trigger and our missiles will always be ready to launch," he said, according to ISNA news agency. "Another night missile maneuver is taking place right now," Salami told state television later. He did not elaborate.

Wednesday's war games were being conducted at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway where about 40 percent of the world's oil passes through.

The report showed footage of at least three missiles firing simultaneously, and said the barrage included a new version of the Shahab-3 missile, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead.

That would put Israel, Turkey, the Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking distance.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called Iran a "great threat" and called for cooperation with allies to tighten pressure on Tehran. His Republican opponent John McCain voiced support for a missile shield to counter Iran.

Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, has vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb. "Israel does not threaten Iran, but the Iranian nuclear program, combined with their aggressive ballistic missile program, is a matter of grave concern," Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said after the tests.

For months, Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have said they don't believe the U.S. will attack because of its difficulties in Iraq, domestic worries and concerns over the fallout in the region. At the same time, Tehran has stepped up its warnings of retaliation if the Americans - or Israelis - do attack it, including threats to hit Israel and U.S. Gulf bases with missiles and stop oil traffic through the vital Gulf region.

In late June, then commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet said any attempt by Iran to seal off the Strait of Hormuz would be viewed as an act of war. The U.S. 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, across the Gulf from Iran.

Meir Javedanfar, a leading Iran analyst in Israel, says Israeli officials are concerned. "I think they are viewing this with much concern. It shows Iran has the capability to reach Israel. But for now the Israeli priority is for the negotiations to succeed so the lower the Israeli government can keep the volume when it comes to the Iranian military capability the more it allows people like European Union negotiator Javier Solana to be able to negotiate with Iran and hopefully come to a peaceful conclusion."

Israeli officials insist that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and those pronouncements by Iranian leaders to wipe Israel off the map mean that Iran's nuclear enrichment activities are a threat to Israel's existence. Javendanfar says Israeli officials are closely watching recent diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, because they seem to be having an effect inside Iran.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the Iranian test demonstrated enhanced capability for the country's Shahab Three missile, but he said he could not provide details, adding the test provides evidence to support the U.S. view that Europe needs a system to defend against Iranian missiles.

'Peace Partner' Abbas Attempts Suicide Bombing But Israel Blames Hamas

By WorldNetDaily.com

Israel Wednesday stopped a suicide bombing purportedly planned by the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, but then blamed the halted attack on the Hamas terror organization, WND has learned.

U.S. and Israeli policies consider Abbas to be "moderate" and those two nations have been negotiating with him in line with talks started at last November's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis Summit, which seeks to create a Palestinian state by the end of the year.

Israeli forces killed terrorist Talal Abed just outside the northern West Bank city of Jenin. A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces told WND that Abed was a member of Hamas and that he was involved in planning a Hamas suicide bombing inside Israel.

The IDF spokesman said Abed was killed in a joint IDF and police force operation in the town of Kfar Dan just outside Jenin. The spokesman said Israeli forces moved to arrest Abed but the terrorist opened fire, drawing Israeli return fire. Abed was gravely wounded and was transported to an Israeli hospital where he died.

But Abed is a well-known Kfar Dan-area leader of Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Indeed, the Brigades today released a pamphlet stating Abed was a member of the group's Abu Ammar cell, named after former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, who was also known as Abu Ammar.

An official Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades statement e-mailed to WND just after Abed was wounded but before he died about 30 minutes later in a hospital, read: "The Israeli special units kidnapped one of the leaders of our Martyrs Brigades in Kfar Dan. The Zionists kidnapped Talal Ziad Abed, brother of Muhamad Abed. ... We in the Brigades prevent the Zionist occupier from causing any damage to the life of our leader.

"We emphasize all attempts to arrest the fighters of our organization will not hurt our will and motivation to fight the enemy. We will react against every crime of the enemy and our reaction will be in the time and place we decide upon."

Immediately following Abed's death, Palestinian news websites officially run by Fatah mourned Abed as a "Fatah Martyr." A PA security official, speaking to WND on condition of anonymity, said Abed in recent weeks was questioned by the PA on suspicion he was also working with Hamas. But the PA official said there was no proof Abed worked with Hamas, though he did not discount the possibility Abed was planning a suicide bombing on behalf of both the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas.


Samaritans Face Loss of Population

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

There are few communities in the world more ancient than the Samaritans. For centuries, the Samaritans have lived in isolation. But now as their numbers diminish, some are looking to the outside world to replenish their numbers.

For nearly 3,000 years, Samaritans have recited their prayers on Mount Gerizim near the city of Nablus on the West Bank. The prayers, in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, were once recited by more than a million Samaritans. Now there are only 750 left, on Mt. Gerizim and in the Israeli city of Holon.

The ruins overlooking the West Bank are all that remain of the ancient Samaritan temple. Samaritans who live in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim are descended from Jews who escaped deportation to Babylon when Assyrians conquered the area in 721 BCE. Now they are sandwiched between Palestinians in the city of Nablus and Jews in a nearby settlement.

Isolation has taken a toll. Inbreeding has left many Samaritans lame. Others are deaf and dumb. A boy and his grandfather, Elazer Sadaqa, said they are direct descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. Sadaqa is the Samaritans' high priest. He said his family has lived here for some 150 generations.

He agreed to let Samaritans marry outside the community as a way of saving it. "I, because I am the high priest, gave them permission to marry from where they want to let the blood get good," Sadaqa said. "Also we do not have enough girls."

Sadaqa's son Yair was supposed to follow Samaritan tradition and marry his cousin. But Yair has two deaf and dumb brothers. So he called off the marriage and instead married Alexandra, a young woman from Ukraine. He met her through a matchmaker. "Since I have two brothers who are deaf and dumb, I decided to bring in help, make us stronger," Yair said.

For Alexandra, the move to Mount Gerizim has not been easy. "The women here in this family have received me very well," she said. "I now have a family here, but I really miss my family in the Ukraine."

So far, Alexandra and a woman from Russia are the only foreign women to marry into the community. Several more women from Russia and the Ukraine have married Samaritans in the Israeli city Holon. And there are several new babies, all healthy.

Overall there are four Samaritan single men for every three women. Here in Mount Gerizim, the ratio can approach two to one in some age groups. Some Samaritan men never marry. Even so, some Samaritan women say marrying outsiders is not the answer.

Nawal says young people can now undergo tests before marrying and while pregnant to reduce the risk of birth defects. She says Samaritan culture cannot be understood by outsiders. "I think the coming of these women into the Samaritan sect is more negative than positive because we grow up learning about our traditions, and those women are not going to be able to explain to their children about our culture," Nawal said.

Foreign women must live with the Samaritans for six months before they marry -- to see if they can adapt to Samaritan customs, like being separated from others during menstruation. Isolation and loneliness is a problem for the outsiders. But with the gender ratio in Samaritan communities out of balance, men in this ancient tribe will likely continue looking outside for brides.


Female Hasidic Cop Makes History

By YnetNews.com

Officer Baile Glauber of the Ramapo, N.Y. Police Department does not work on Fridays or Saturdays, unless an emergency comes up. Residents of the small suburban New York City town of Ramapo have already grown accustomed to the sight of this policewoman, who until recently belonged to the Hasidic sect of Satmar.

Currently in her mid-20s, Glauber grew up in an orthodox family belonging to the town of Monsey's Hasidic Satmar community. As she matured she became an inseparable part of the community, and even married a man belonging to the sect. Three years ago the couple had their first child.

However during recent years Glauber began to feel that the scrupulously orthodox way of life was not for her, and began to modernize and adapt her life to secularism while still upholding mitzvahs and maintaining a Jewish lifestyle. Two years ago she signed up for law enforcement at the Rockland Community College and graduated successfully.

She began to desire the role of a police officer while training at the local sheriff's office, and in February she was accepted into the officer academy. Two weeks ago she graduated, becoming Ramapo's first ultra-Orthodox policewoman. Some members of her family attended the graduation ceremony in traditional black dress, and could be seen cheering Glauber on enthusiastically.

Rockland's police department was less enthusiastic about the new officer, who asked for special permission to refrain from working on the Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Eventually the district's prosecutor agreed to grant her the permission. However she must make herself available during the weekends for emergency calls.

Glauber had to pay an even higher price for her new occupation, though. She and her husband recently divorced, and according to members of the community she was forced to hand over custody of her child to his family.

The county's other Hasidic officer, Shlomo Koenig, is a detective for the Rockland Sheriff's Department, but did not work the Sabbath when he started.

























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