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Mashaal: US Treatment of Bin-Laden 'Atrocity'


Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal severely criticized, Thursday evening, the manner in which Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Ben-Laden was killed.

He told the French news agency that "Arabs and Muslims are human beings that the West must treat as such, without regard to whether they are supporters or opponents of Osama Bin-Laden." Mashaal called on Western countries "to recognize the atrocity of American fascism and the way Bin-Laden's body was buried at sea."

Barak: Iran Won't Drop Nuclear Bomb on Israel

By Ha'aretz

If Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, it is unlikely to bomb Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Ha'aretz in an Independence Day interview.

Barak said Israel should not spread public panic about the Iranian nuclear program - a position that seems to put him out of step with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who in recent years has repeatedly compared the Iranian push to develop a nuclear bomb to the Third Reich's development of increasingly sophisticated weapons.

When asked whether he thinks Iran would drop a nuclear bomb on Israel, Barak said: "Not on us and not on any other neighbor. I don't think in terms of panic," he said. "What about Pakistan, some political meltdown happens there and four bombs wind up in Iran. So what? So you head for the airport? You close down the country? Just because they got a shortcut? No. We are still the most powerful in the Middle East."

All the same, Barak said Iranian rulers could not be relied upon to remain clearheaded. "I don't think that anyone can say responsibly that these ayatollahs, if they have nuclear weapons, are something you can rely on, like the Politburo or the Pentagon," he said. "It's not the same thing. I don't think they will do anything so long as they are in complete control of their senses, but to say that somebody really knows and understands what will happen with such a leadership sitting in a bunker in Tehran and thinking that it's going to fall in a few days and it is capable of doing it? I don't know what it would do."

Though the Iranian government seems to have largely eluded the wave of revolutions in the Arab world, Barak said it too could collapse. "I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of the dictatorships in the Arab world, including the Iranian one," he said.

Speaking of Israel's failure to secure the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, despite having offered to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, Barak said he thinks Shalit could have been freed three years ago.

Commenting on his wealth, he said he was indeed a millionaire but "not a tycoon. I'm no wealthier than Bibi Netanyahu or Arik Sharon," he said. "I don't feel that I'm more hedonistic than Ehud Olmert, or Yitzhak Rabin, or Shimon Peres."

Israel Agrees to Pay Mark-Up on Sixth Dolphin-Class Submarine


Israel has decided to pay Germany the mark-up on a $1 billion Dolphin-class submarine, officials announced Thursday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had lobbied German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this year to underwrite a significant portion of the purchase, but Berlin balked at discounting Israel's sixth Dolphin as it tightens its belt amidst global economic downturn.

Germany has, in the past, sold submarines to Israel at steep discounts as a show of solidarity with the Jewish state, which was founded in the wake of the Holocaust.

A special ministerial committee decided to accept the recommendation of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who lobbied for the purchase, despite the price-tag. Israel currently operates three Dolphins, and purchased two more from Germany in 2006. Those submarines are expected to be delivered later this year.

The purchase of Israel's sixth Dolphin was approved over the objection of senior IDF officers. Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his successor Benny Ganz both opposed acquiring a sixth submarine on budgetary grounds. In 2006 Former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz insisted one submarine - rather than the two ultimately purchased - was enough to carry out the missions allotted to Israel's submarine force.

Foreign reports Thursday said the two vessels expected to arrive this year have the ability to carry nuclear warheads and provide Israel with the ability to launch a counter-strike on Iran should the Islamic Republic strike a serious blow to Israel's population centers.

Israeli Scientists Discover Obesity Protein


Scientists at the Weizmann Institute have discovered a protein in the brain that contributes to obesity, in a study whose findings appeared this week in the journal Cell Metabolism.

The protein primarily affected females, rather than males, according to Prof. Ari Elson and his team of researchers at the Institute's Molecular Genetics Department. Without it, female mice became slim and healthy. Males were unaffected.

The protein, tyrosine phosphatase epsilon (PTPe), blocks the messages from a hormone called leptin, a key player in body mass regulation. PTPe responds to the leptin signal in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that takes in assorted stimuli, including a wide variety of hormones, and which sends out messages of its own in the form of new hormones and nerve signals.

The hypothalamus also plays a vital role in regulating body mass – a complex balancing act that involves, among other things, the control of appetite and physical activity.

Leptin reduces appetite and increases physical activity – but people who are obese often have too much leptin circulating in their blood. According to the scientists, this happens because although the body produces the hormone at a normal level, cells in obese people become resistant to the hormone's effects – and more leptin is then generated to compensate.

The new research shows that PTPe plays a role in this resistance. Mice that were lacking the protein were highly sensitive to leptin. "Interestingly enough," said Elson, "the effect seems to be gender-specific. Male mice hardly benefited at all from the lack of PTPe, compared with the female mice." He added the finding could open up "whole new lines of inquiry in obesity studies."

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