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Missile Attack on Tel Aviv Might Force Evacuation

By AFP

The entire population of Tel Aviv would be evacuated if unconventional missiles were to strike the city; a Home Front officer told the AFP news agency in an interview.

Col. Adam Zusman, chief of the Home Front Command in metropolitan Tel Aviv, told the interviewer, "In case of a missile attack on the center of Israel, especially unconventional, the population from Tel Aviv and other cities will be evacuated and relocated in other areas of the country."Massive evacuations will take place in case of unconventional attacks and if buildings are destroyed by a missile."

With a population of just over 400,000, Tel Aviv is Israel's second-largest city. The Tel Metropolitan Area, or Gush Dan, boasts over 3 million people, some 42%t of the country's entire population, making such a mass evacuation a potential logistical nightmare.

The last time Tel Aviv was hit by missiles was in 1991, when Saddam Hussein hit the city with Scud missiles. Miraculously, no one was killed, although one elderly man died from a heart attack immediately after a strike. In an ironic twist, hundreds of families moved to outlying areas often viewed as more dangerous, including Judea and Samaria, to escape the missile threat. Missiles struck north of Tel Aviv in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

If Israel is attacked again in a war, Zusman estimated that "hundreds of missiles will hit Tel Aviv and its nearby cities. As a result of these attacks, there will be hundreds of Israeli casualties. In the next war, nobody will be able to drink a coffee in Dizengoff," referring to the downtown area named after the first mayor of the city. "Israeli civilians will have to face the threat. Today, every civilian is threatened in Israel."

Despite his dire forecast in the case of a missile attack, he added that Israel's defenses include some of the "most sophisticated" anti-aircraft system in the world, although there is no total protection.

Hizbullah is estimated to possess more than 60,000 missiles, three times the number it had stockpiled before the Second Lebanon War. In addition, Hamas is known to have smuggled from Iranian and Syrian sources missiles that can strike Tel Aviv.

"We are getting ready for the worst-case scenario." He acknowledged that gaps in preparedness remain, with around 30% of the residents in the area under his command lacking gas masks. But in other areas, he said, precautions had been taken, including the running of regular drills and the preparation of hospitals to deal with the potential of treating casualties while under attack. .
However, Zusman made no mention of the fact that any Iranian attack against Israel would likely be retaliatory, as the country's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned "the threat of a nuclear Iran must be turned aside." Netanyahu further intonated that such a strike "is not days or weeks away, but neither is it years away."

Iranian Media: Islamic World Needs Nuclear Weapons

By Reuters

Iranian state-run media has published a commentary that stated, "The Islamic world should rise up and shout that a nuclear bomb is our right." The regime under Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has constantly stated that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The commentary was published by Fars News Agency, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards tightly and usually publishes official opinion. It indicates that Iran is changing gears, said Erick Staklebeck, who writes for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Staklebeck noted that the Islamic world already has nuclear weapons because Pakistan is known to have approximately 110 such weapons. "If Pakistan uses one of its nukes, it will be to the East, against its arch-rival, India. Iran, on the other hand, clearly has its sights set on the United States, Europe and Israel," he wrote.

The commentary, which he said he received from a friend, was written by Alireza Forghani, a former governor of southern Iran's Kish Province and an analyst and a strategy specialist "in the camp of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

Iran could possibly rationalize its "peaceful objectives" for nuclear power by arguing that a nuclear bomb would create peace if it were to be used on Israel to achieve Ahmadinejad stated objective of annihilating Zionism. Forghani wrote in February that Iran should stage a "pre-emptive" strike on Israel.

Forghani wrote on Sunday, "The fatwa from Imam Khomeini [the founder of Iran's Islamic revolution -- ed.] said `all Islamic countries have Islamic blood.' Therefore the Islamic world should rise up and shout that a nuclear bomb is our right, and disrupt the dreams of America and Israel."

"Having a nuclear bomb is our right. Israel would have been destroyed completely 30 years ago" but remains because of its assumed possession of nuclear warheads. "The Islamic republic, after the victory of the 1979 revolution, faced a hard reality of its enemies trying to overthrow the only true Islamic republic in the world," he wrote. "The enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, headed by America with cooperation by its European allies and some in Asia — [and] using the tools such as the United Nations, other international organizations and NATO — have continuously pursued their goal of overthrowing the … government."

Staklebeck commented that the article indicates that Iranian leaders are "telegraphing their intentions towards us and are very close to acquiring nuclear weapons that will make their apocalyptic visions a reality."

Israel in Secret Pact with Vatican

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A special meeting was held at the Pope's palace on Tuesday, attended by delegations from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vatican. During the meeting, the sides discussed some of the unresolved issues between them.

At the conclusion of the meeting, which was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, the Foreign Ministry released a statement saying, "The talks took place in an open, balanced and constructive environment, during which significant progress was made towards an agreement."

There have been disagreements between the Vatican and Israel on several economic issues and on the status of the Church and priests in Israel. Among the economic issues for which a solution has yet to be found is the question of property tax of churches and land owned by the Church, especially around the Kinneret, the tax status of churches and more.

Another controversial issue between the two sides is the Vatican's request that Israel give it sovereignty over King David's Tomb in Jerusalem. The Catholic Church has claimed ownership of a room in the compound, in which it says the "Last Supper" occurred. Ayalon has promised in the past he would defend Israel's sovereignty there.

Bahij Mansour, director of the Department for Religious Affairs in the Foreign Ministry who has been responsible for the talks with the Vatican for the past two years, confirmed in a conversation with Arutz Sheva that the two sides are nearing an agreement. He added, however, that for the time being the parties have agreed not to make public any information regarding the understandings reached.

Asked by Arutz Sheva whether the issue of King David's Tomb would be included in the agreement, the Foreign Ministry said that the issue will indeed be included but would not reveal exact details. "The details do not matter at the moment, but the subject of the room of the Last Supper will be included in the agreements," the Foreign Ministry said.

Mansour told Arutz Sheva that both sides made gestures and concessions in order to reach an agreement. "At this time there are almost no differences. There was great openness between the parties and we are ahead of signing an agreement," he said, adding that the sides will meet again in six months.

In a speech a in the Knesset a few weeks ago, Ayalon said that Israel does not intend to give up its sovereignty over King David's Tomb. His remarks came in response to a question by Shas Knesset member Nissim Ze'ev, who said that the Foreign Ministry is holding talks over giving up its sovereignty. Ayalon, in turn, said this "never happened," but agreed to a request by Ze'ev to bring the issue up for discussion at one of the Knesset's committees.

Ze'ev told Arutz Sheva he knows for a fact that there are indeed negotiations over the Vatican's demands for sovereignty of King David's Tomb, despite the fact that historians and archaeologists have stated that without any doubt, there is no evidence to suggest that the compound was in place 2,000 years ago or even half that time, a fact that nullifies the Church's claims.

Ze'ev said that he believes the Church would allow the State to nationalize some of the land it owns around the Kinneret in exchange for obtaining sovereignty of the compound in question. It is not known how accurate Ze'ev's claims are since, for the time being, both parties are being careful not to disclose any information regarding the agreement being worked out.


Israeli Robot Performs Brain Surgery

By Audrey Quinn (SmartPlanet.com)

When it comes to smarty-pants career tropes, brain surgeon falls right up there with rocket scientist. But brain surgeons could be taken down a notch by a new robot developed by the Israel-based Mazor Robotics.

The company announced this week it has completed the first successful robot-guided brain surgical procedures. The two German neurosurgeons who carried out the three trial procedures report excitement over the precision of the robot's work. "We see great potential in the application of robotic technology to brain and spine surgeries. Our patients have been the best testament to its clinical success," said one of the surgeons in a press release.

Mazor Robotics' device can be used for brain biopsies, shunt placements, and neurostimulation electrode placement as used for deep brain stimulation.

Given the 25,000 brain biopsies completed in the United States each year, and the several hundred million dollars spent on deep brain stimulation annually, brain surgical work is a lucrative market.

Mazor Robotics already has one of the world's first hands-free robotic spine surgery products, called the Renaissance System, and company directors saw brain surgery robotics as a logical next step.

The US Food and Drug Administration and EU CE Mark are currently reviewing the new product, and a decision is expected by the end of the year. Mazor Robotics plans to begin sell the brain surgery robot as an add-on to the Renaissance System in early 2013.


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