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Israel Plans for Naval Buildup

By Foreign Policy, & NY Daily News

Energy resources are a hot commodity in the Levant Basin days, and with 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, and 5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids at stake, the Israeli defense ministry is asking for a "one-time budget increase" of about $760 million to boost its naval capacity in the Mediterranean Sea so it can better protect the country's offshore natural gas platforms.

Though Israel purchased its fourth Dolphin-class diesel-electric submarine from Germany earlier this year to the tune of over $500 million, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz are on board with the plan, which "calls for adding four new warships to Israel's naval fleet and deploying hundreds of soldiers in the area."

Natural gas discoveries in the early 21st century have created a military debacle for Israel, which does not have demarcated maritime boundary with Lebanon. All of the multinational gas platforms are privately owned and fall within Israel's exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles from the coast, but they are located beyond Israel's territorial waters, which only stretch 12 nautical miles from land.

Israel's first offshore natural gas discovery, Tamar, is not slated to come online until 2013, but the defense institution fears that the platforms are already targets for terrorist attacks from Hezbollah, which receives long-range missiles from Syria. The Israeli navy does not traditionally get the lion's share of the defense budget, and top officials are worrying. As one anonymous senior Israeli military planner told Reuters, "We will do our best, but not without a major boost to our capabilities."

In May, senior naval officer Capt. Sassi Hodeda told the Los Angeles Times that the navy wants to improve its radar systems and use unmanned surface vehicles to patrol, but added that they require "special technology" the navy does not have.

If the navy does receive the extra funding, the vessels it purchases "will have to accommodate an advanced radar system, a helicopter and a launch system capable of firing long-range air defense and surface-to-surface missiles." According to the Jerusalem Post, the options include designing the ships in the U.S. using foreign military aid, and building them in South Korea. Navy and defense ministry officials have been holding talks in recent months focused on the need for new vessels to replace the aging fleet of Sa'ar 5-class corvettes, reported Xinhua.

In April, the US Sixth Fleet oversaw maneuvers with the Israeli and Greek navies, code-named Noble Dina, which included air-to-air combat simulations, anti-submarine warfare and protection of offshore natural gas rigs.

The rigs, located more than 130 km beyond Israel's territorial waters but within the country's "economic waters zone", are a prime target for ground and ship-based rockets, or other militant attacks.

The five contiguous offshore fields - Aditya, Ishai, Lela, Yahav and Yoad - are located 170 km west of Haifa, and cover 500,000 acres. They are adjacent to the larger Leviathan (450 billion cubic meters) and Tamar (240 billion cubic meters) fields, discovered several years ago.

The army's high command recently tasked the navy's missile boat flotilla with securing the Tamar, Leviathan and Yam Tethys drilling platforms, according to reports in local media outlets.

Another reason for the new weaponry is a potential offensive against Gaza, Lebanon or Syria. In armed conflicts in recent years, naval forces aided the military's offensives, providing them with fire support. The missiles the army is considering could be deployed against enemy installations, bases or radar stations.

Navy commander Maj. Gen. Ram Rothberg said the Arab Spring unrest that has destabilized the Middle East has also affected the sea, and that Syria has advanced anti-ship missiles that could threaten Israel's warships.

"But we are prepared for these scenarios," Rothberg emphasized, adding, "It took several advanced attack craft to secure the gas rigs and gas deposits, and to assure naval superiority when we sailed in the area. We cannot do it with submarines alone."

Nazi-Era Rape, Murder Case Reopens Old Polish Wounds

By Ha'aretz

Poland has just reopened a 71-year-old case involving the rape and murder of 20 Jewish women. In the 1941 case — in the midst of World II, and two years after the Nazi invasion of Poland — six Poles allegedly beat the Jewish women to death with metal-tipped clubs outside the hamlet of Bzury, in northeastern Poland. Government prosecutor Radoslaw Ignatiew hopes to prosecute the killers, if they are still alive. He also hopes to discover the identities of the women and the location of their graves.

"There is no doubt that the murderers were Poles," Ignatiew told Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest newspaper, speaking of the newly reopened rape and murder case. Ignatiew represents the Institute of National Remembrance, which was established in 1998 to prosecute crimes committed during Nazi and communist rule.

The women were taken from the ghetto established by the Nazis in Sczczuczyn, six miles from Bzury, on the false pretense that they were needed to tend a vegetable field. After they were raped and beaten to death, their bodies were dumped into pits in a forest.

New Jersey Man Unwittingly Buys Hitler's Car


A New Jersey real estate developer never expected that a simple car purchase would put him in a vehicle that was once used to transport an infamous dictator. So imagine Fred Daibes' shock upon learning that a vintage Mercedes-Benz that was bought for him by a car repair shop owner once belonged to none other than Adolf Hitler. "He was surprised," Zenop Tuncer, owner of Euro Tech Motors, told CBS News. "We were all surprised!"

According to the report, Daibes asked Tuncer to find him a Mercedes-Benz 540K. But Tuncer could only procure a 1942 Mercedes 320 Cabriolet D convertible, which Daibes agreed to buy. Tuncer noted that the car looked like a military one; he even found patches covering what was once a place for a flag post and a siren. "It's definitely for a general," he told CBS. Moreover, the car's serial number featured a small eagle on to of a swastika, indicating it had been made for the Nazis.

When he contacted Mercedes-Benz in search for replacement parts, he was shocked to be told that the car belonged to the Nazi leader. According to CBS, Mercedes-Benz custom made eight such vehicles for the Nazis.

The original owner did not know the car's history, and said that his grandfather brought the vehicle to the United States from Germany after the war. Daibes said he paid $175,000 for the car a year ago, and has recently turned down an offer of $1.5 million.

"It's Hitler's car, he's a devil, but you know, he's still part of history," Daibes was quoted as saying. "From a financial point of view the car is worth more money than when I paid for it so that's the only way I look at it." Tuncer seconded the sentiment. "I would not touch the car," Tuncer stated. "I would keep it the original way. It has a story on it."

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