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Plane Collision Narrowly Averted


The IDF reported that on September 25 a collision between a British passenger plane and an IDF warplane was narrowly averted. The British plane had taken off from Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai and entered Israeli airspace without a permit and without coordination with Israeli authorities.

The British plane entered an air corridor where IDF planes were conducting exercises, and a collision was averted at the last minute. Israel has filed a sharp protest with Egyptian aviation authorities over the incident.

Survey Indicates Large Oil Field Buried Under Negev Sands


A new preliminary geological survey indicates 26 million barrels of recoverable oil worth $2 billion may be sitting underneath the sandy soil in the area of two kibbutzim in the Western Negev, near Gaza.

Energtek announced it has received a geological survey on the Nir-am—Sa'ad block, "identifying the potential for exploitable oil and natural gas reserves." Its subsidiary Energtek Products has the exclusive license to explore and exploit the resources in the area.

The firm added, "Current estimates will need to be confirmed by additional studies. Additional seismic analysis, modeling and further verifications are required to compile more accurate data on the fields and to provide more accurate reports on actual recoverable reserves."

Besides the estimates of oil at a depth of 2,000 meters, or approximately 1.25 miles, the preliminary survey also reports an additional estimate of 12 million barrels of recoverable oil at depths of up to 4,000 meters, worth $900 at current prices.

The area is adjacent to the small Heletz oil field, which so far has produced more than 16 million barrels of oil. If the new field is drilled, it will be the first deep-well drilling in the area in decades.

The announcement of the possible new field comes one day after Israel entered a new era with the beginning of drilling of the huge Leviathan natural gas and oil field off the northern Mediterranean Coast.

Drilling and exploration over the next five months will cost $150 million, according to Delek Energy, the parent of Delek Drilling and partner Avner Oil. American-based Noble is also part of the consortium.

"The drilling is intended to examine the potential of the Levantine basin," according to Delek chief executive officer Gideon Tadmor, chief executive officer. "If this drilling project turns out to be a success, it will significantly strengthen Israel's energy independence."

Noble also operates the nearby Tamar gas field, which it said may hold twice the reserves of reserves in Britain and can supply Israel with enough gas for decades.

Oren: No One will Dictate Israel's Borders

By Ha'aretz

Israel's ambassador to the United States Michael Oren remarked on Tuesday that Israel would not allow anyone to dictate its borders. "Like Ben-Gurion, Netanyahu will not allow the United Nations, or any other organization, to dictate our borders, he told the Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C.

In September, Israel entered into U.S.-sponsored direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians, which subsequently broke down in the wake of the expiration of a temporary Israeli moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements. As part of the negotiations, Palestinian negotiators have demanded the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

"Today, too, Israel is blessed with principled and courageous leadership. While facing terrorist groups sworn to destroy every last one of us - women, children, senior citizens - and some 60,000 Hamas and Hizbullah rockets pointed directly at our homes; with so-called human rights organizations and boycott movements and campus coalitions denying our right to defend ourselves and even our right to exist, and with Iranian leaders swearing to wipe us off the map and striving to produce the nuclear means for doing that…. With all of those challenges, the Israeli government under PM Benjamin Netanyahu has not for a nanosecond reduced its commitment to peace," Oren said.

"But not a peace at any price," he added. "Not a peace that will impair Israel's security or impugn its identity as the nation state of the Jewish people. As Netanyahu said last year in his Bar-Ilan speech, he will not allow any future Palestinian state to become another Lebanon or Gaza."

Report: Cuban Pilots Helped 150,000 Jews Flee to Israel in 1950s

By Ha'aretz

Five Cuban pilots were responsible for bringing to Israel 150,000 Jews from Iraq, Iran, India and Yemen during the 1950s, the French daily La Liberation reported on Monday.

According to the report, which is based on an interview the Cuban historian Rolando Marron gave to the Cuban daily Juventud Rebelde, the details of the operation have been kept secret for over 60 years until this past Sunday. Marron said that among the Jews brought between 1951 and 1952, 115,000 refugees were from Iraq, 25,000 were from Iran, and several hundreds from Yemen and India.

"The condition of the Jewish populations in the surrounding Arab states was difficult due to historic conflicts", Marron was quoted as saying. "Since the governments of those Arab countries prohibited the Jews to leave by land, and since transport by sea was difficult, the Israeli government organized one of the most important aerial mass migrations in history."

Israel Invites Chilean Miners for a 'Spiritual' Christmas

By Ha'aretz

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov on Monday extended an official invitation to the 33 Chilean miners who were rescued last week to experience a "spiritual journey" this Christmas in the Holy Land.

The men, who were trapped underground for 68 days in a mine in Chile, are invited to Israel with their spouses for a week-long, all-expense paid sightseeing tour of various sites holy to Christianity.

"Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the earth, was an inspiration to us all," the tourism minister wrote in his invitation. "It would be a great honor for us to welcome you as our guests in the Holy Land.

"This December, Christians around the world – and here in the Land of Jesus - will celebrate Christmas. During that time, we welcome tens of thousands of pilgrims and we would be pleased to offer you this uplifting and extraordinary experience, as our guests."

The Tourism Ministry invitation includes flights, hotels and full board for 5-7 days, as well as sightseeing tours and visits to holy sites.

IDF to Block Facebook, Gmail to Prevent 'Gifts for Hamas'

By Ha'aretz

The Israel Defense Forces plans to block several prominent websites, among them social networks Facebook and Twitter, as well as email sites like Gmail – a military intelligence official told Channel 2 on Tuesday.

The head of the intelligence corps information security Gadi Abadi said that the sites would blocked on computers that have internet connections on army bases and offices where classified materials are kept. However, these sites would be accessible from computers situated in the unit's break room. Soldiers would still be able to access the blocked sites on their cellular phones.

Abadi explained that the block aims to maintain information security. "We give IDF soldiers a lot of credit," he said. "They are good soldiers who care deeply about security, but they are human. When a soldier is in his office at the unit, the risk of confusion and mistakes is higher. When you separate the work environment from the non-operations environment, the number of mistakes drops significantly."

Following the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF established a special unit whose purpose was to prevent the leakage of classified information onto the internet via social networks. The unit scans a list of popular websites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace looking for breaches of security.

Military Intelligence also disseminated a memo on the protocols of transfer of information online in efforts to raise awareness on the dangers of such inadvertent leaks.

"Who has been handing out gifts to Hamas?" the memo read. "Images from which classified information can be gleaned have been located online on a Hamas forum! These photos include IDF weapons, military exercises during Cast Lead, photos of senior officials, a photo of a drone and more. Most of these pictures were uploaded to social networks by IDF soldiers. Exposure of such classified information undermines the element of surprise and could lead to attacks on our forces."

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Public and Digital


The Israel Antiquities Authority is cooperating with Google Israel on a huge project: the creation of an online digital library that will finally display the Dead Sea scrolls to the general public, more than 50 years after their discovery. The scrolls include all of the books of the Bible and date from the late Second Temple period.

The project – The Leon Levy Digital Library of the Judean Desert Scrolls – will display 900 manuscripts online. The manuscripts are made up of about 30,000 pieces of different sizes. Besides a grant from the Leon Levy Fund, it is being underwritten by the Arcadia Fund and Yad HaNadiv Fund.

The images of the scrolls will be created using innovative imaging technology by scanning each fragment with light in different wavelengths. The scrolls have been reconstructed by researchers, who put the fragments together in a way that they believe reflects the original.

However, once the project is complete, online researchers and lay viewers will be able to use the library's online tools to select a fragment and move it around on their computer screen, to try and see if it fits better in another place. All the text will also come with transcriptions and translations. The new scans may also reveal letters that have faded over the years, leading to more discoveries.

IAA Director Shuka Dorfman said that the project is "a historical connection that we have made with progress, in order to preserve heritage for future generations."

Prof. Yossi Mattias, Director of Google Israel Research and Development Center, said: "We are proud to take part in a project that makes the IAA's rich collection available to the entire world. This project will enrich and preserve an important part of the world's cultural heritage by making it available for web users everywhere."

The director of the project for the IAA is Pnina Shor, who has been assisted by leading experts from Israel, the US and Italy.

For decades, the Dead Sea Scrolls were the subject of intense academic dispute, not just because of varying interpretations of their content but also because only a select group of researchers had access to them, causing great frustration and anger among those who did not.

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