Newsletter : 13fx0527.txt
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Rocket Reportedly Fired into Israel from Lebanon
By The Times of Israel & Israel Hayom
A rocket was fired from south Lebanon at Israel, Lebanese media reported Sunday night.
Residents in the area of Metula, near the border with Lebanon, reported hearing a
high-pitched whistle followed by a loud boom before midnight, according to a report in
Ynet news. There were no initial reports of injury or damage. A security source told
Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper that the rocket was fired from the area of Burj al-Marouk,
near the town of Marjayoun. The town is about five kilometers (3 miles) from Metula.
Israel Defense Forces troops were dispatched to the area to locate the rocket, if it
fell within Israel, Ynet reported. Troops from the UNIFIL peacekeeping force also
conducted searches inside Lebanon, The Daily Star reported. The reported rocket fire came
several hours after a Hizbullah stronghold in Beirut was shelled, injuring four people.
There was no claim of responsibility for that attack. However, a Syrian rebel commander
threatened earlier this week to strike against Hizbullah strongholds in retaliation for
the militia's military support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Two rockets hit a Hizbullah-controlled district in the southern part of the Lebanese
capital of Beirut overnight Saturday, residents said, wounding several people in an attack
that may have been a response to a speech by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah earlier in
Nasrallah vowed on Saturday to help propel Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to victory
in Syria's bloody civil war, warning that the fall of the Damascus regime would benefit
Israel and the West, give rise to extremists and plunge the Middle East into a "dark
It was the first attack to apparently target Hizbullah's stronghold in the south of the
Lebanese capital since the outbreak of the two-year conflict in neighboring Syria, which
has sharply heightened Lebanon's own sectarian tensions.
Hizbullah fired thousands of rockets into Israel during the Second Lebanon War in 2006,
and the Shiite terror group has threatened to attack Israel in response to reported
attacks by Israeli planes inside Syria earlier this month. Those attacks were said to have
been carried out to stop advanced weapons transfers from Iran to Hizbullah, according to
unnamed American and Israeli sources.
On Monday, Israel will hold a massive national preparedness drill, which will focus on
chemical attacks, as well as rocket strikes on the Israeli heartland. The head of the
IDF's Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, said Tuesday that the outbreak of a
war in which Israel would be hit with a "large volume of rocket fire" was a certainty.
"Our opponents hold long-range missiles with large warheads and the capacity to carry
hundreds of kilos," he said.
The drill will include preparation for possible missile strikes against Israel,
particularly in the greater Tel Aviv area. The first few days will center on protecting
civilian populations at public institutions and private households. Two alarms will blare
on Monday, at 12:30 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., and citizens will be requested to go to safe rooms
or bomb shelters and to stay inside for 10 minutes.
The drill will mark the first time an entire network of early warning systems will be
tested. In addition to sirens, civilians are to receive alerts from various sources,
including from cellphones, social networks, and the television.
Palestinian Negotiator: No Talks Unless Israel Accepts '67 Lines, Freezes
By The Times of Israel
The Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Sunday that his side
would only agree to renew peace talks if Israel ceased all settlement activity and openly
declared that a future state of Palestine would be created on the 1967 lines with minor
land swaps. He sounded exceedingly skeptical about the prospects of a breakthrough in the
"We need to know what are the terms of reference for these negotiations. What are we
negotiating about?" Erekat told Israeli reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic
Forum at a Dead Sea hotel on the Jordanian side,. "If you have an Israeli prime minister
who cannot utter the sentences two states on 1967 come on, guys. Stop being
Earlier on Sunday, President Shimon Peres, who also attended the conference, said he
was optimistic about efforts made by Secretary of State John Kerry to restart negotiations
between Israelis and Palestinians. Peres was said to be holding private meetings with
Abbas and other world leaders throughout the day. "We all agree with President Shimon
Peres on the need for two states based on '67," Erekat said. "He should focus on
convincing the Israeli prime minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu," to accept that framework.
The Americans, too, added Erekat, must push for Netanyahu to declare "publicly his
acceptance of two states based on '67."
Despite talk about the imminent resumption of peace talks, Erekat accused Israel of
apartheid and suggested that Palestinians would only agree to return to the negotiating
table if Jerusalem ceased all settlement construction.
"We were there 20 years ago and we have heard this before; now the Israeli government
must make a choice," Erekat said, referring to the Oslo Accords, which were signed in
1993. "The choices are very clear: Continu[ing] with settlement activity means you want a
one-state solution," he said. "If you don't want to engage in serious negotiations leading
to ending the occupation, what's developing in the West Bank and east Jerusalem today is a
worse apartheid than existed in South Africa." If Israel doesn't cease with its "political
blindness," it will drag the entire region "down the drain," he added.
Addressing Israeli reporters, Erekat said the Palestinian demand that Israel stop
building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank should not be viewed as a precondition to
talks but rather as an Israeli duty.
"The Palestinians have no preconditions whatsoever. The Israelis have to understand the
difference between your obligations and our conditions," Erekat said. "I hope that you in
Israel will be able to differentiate between point-scoring, blame-game, finger pointing,
and obligations. You have obligations; settlement freeze, two states on '67, releasing
[Palestinian] prisoners these are obligations. And I hope the day will come when
the Israeli government will understand the difference between its obligations and our
Farrakhan's 'Synagogue of Satan' Remarks Under Fire
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the statement by Representative John Conyers
(D-MI) strongly denouncing Minister Louis Farrakhan's remarks during a meeting with
Detroit City Council members and local clergy last week as "unacceptable, racist,
anti-Semitic, and homophobic."
ADL expressed appreciation for Conyers' response in condemning Farrakhan's statements
and echoed the sentiment that his words "have no place in civilized discourse."
During his speech to the congregation at The Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, Farrakhan
spewed hateful anti-Semitic invective, referring to "Satanic Jews" and the "Synagogue of
Satan" supposedly controlling major institutions and added that President Obama
"surrounded himself with Satan...members of the Jewish community."
As the longtime leader of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan has frequently espoused
bigoted and anti-Semitic rhetoric. In recent years, the Nation of Islam's campaign to
demonize various groups including Jews, whites, and others has continued unabated.
El Al Plane Narrowly Avoids Crash Near Eilat
By The Times of Israel
An El Al plane almost crashed near Eilat in one of three known safety incidents in the
past month, all of which were being investigated by Israel's Civil Aviation Authority.
With 100 passengers on board, the El Al flight to Eilat narrowly avoided flying into a
mountain, clearing its peak by a mere 200 meters, Channel 10 reported Sunday. "It's as
dangerous as it gets," Udi Zohar, the former head of the Civil Aviation Authority, told
the news station.
According to the report, the plane a Boeing-737 approached the landing
strip in Eilat's airport when the control tower asked the pilots to circle and then
return, because the runway wasn't ready. What was supposed to be a routine procedure
nearly ended in a tragic accident.
Flying without instruments, the pilots lost their sense of direction and flew west
instead of south. It was a night with bad visibility and they didn't notice the mountains
looming in front of them, the report said. At the last moment, the pilots pulled the plane
up and avoided the crash, but continued flying into Egypt's no-fly zone before turning
around. The Transportation Ministry's chief investigator was still looking into the
matter, and in the meantime the pilots were suspended.
Zohar said that a situation in which the plane's alarm bells were ringing "isn't an
event that can be ignored." If someone thinks they can fly at a certain altitude in a
certain direction "and they fly at the wrong altitude in the wrong direction," it "invites
them to crash into a mountain."
Israel Radio reported that there were at least two other serious safety incidents
involving El Al planes in recent weeks, including one plane which approached Ben-Gurion
Airport at a low altitude, much closer to the nearby roofs than permitted.
Bidding War?: Google vs. Facebook in Talks to Buy Waze
Google Inc is considering buying Israeli mobile satellite navigation startup Waze Inc,
which may lead to a bidding war with Facebook Inc, Bloomberg news reported Friday, citing
people familiar with the matter. Waze is seeking more than $1 billion and is fielding
expressions of interest from multiple parties, Bloomberg cited a source as saying.
The Calcalist business daily first reported that Facebook Inc has held talks to buy
Waze for as much as $1 billion. Google and other parties approached Waze after the
Facebook talks became public but none of the bidders are close to clinching a deal,
Bloomberg said, adding that the start-up might decide to remain independent. Apple Inc,
which distributes a competing map tool, is not part of the discussions, Bloomberg
Waze uses satellite signals from members' smartphones to generate maps and traffic
data, which it then shares with other users, offering real-time traffic information.
The four-year-old company has 47 million users. Waze has 11 of its 100 employees based
in the United States, with the remaining staff in Israel. By buying Waze, the Internet
search giant would prevent the company from falling into the hands of Facebook, which is
delving deeper into mobile technology as it tries to grow its user base.
Mapping services are among the five most-used applications on smartphones and are
crucial to engaging and retaining mobile users. The key advantage of owning, rather than
licensing, a mapping service is that it allows for the product to be tailored and
personalized for users.
"Whoever holds the mapping data is going to be a hot commodity," said Brian Proffitt,
author of several books on mobile technology and an adjunct instructor of management in
the University of Notre Dame. "As larger vendors acquire mapping data, businesses and
consumers will discover that it's more difficult to gain free access and correct
Waze's real-time traffic information, generated continuously from data on users'
smartphones about traveling speed and direction, is considered a particularly valuable
asset that poses a threat to the search giant's existing offering, Google Maps. "Sometimes
the best offense is defense," said a third source close to the situation, explaining
Google's motivation to acquire Waze.
Still, Marcus Thielking, co-founder of rival mapping service, skobbler, said Facebook
could easily develop a real-time traffic service similar to Waze's, thanks to its massive
social network of more than one billion users. As a result, he said, it would be
"shortsighted" for Google to acquire Waze strictly to keep it away from Facebook. "I can't
really see much sense in a Google acquisition, especially not at a price that's close to
what we're talking about," said Thielking.
Due diligence between Waze and Facebook had been under way and a term sheet signed
after six months of discussions, Calcalist reported this month. But talks stalled over
Facebook's demand that the Waze team, primarily working in Israel, relocate to California,
the publication reported days later.
Waze has enjoyed years of spectacular growth. About 12% of its users hail from the
United States, and it also has high penetration in Italy and Brazil. Its user base has
skyrocketed to 47.5 million now, from about seven million in 2011.
Four-year-old Waze was the brainchild of Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer with a
degree in philosophy and computer science from Tel Aviv University, who hit upon the idea
when he realized commercially available GPS software could not reflect real-time
conditions speedily enough, or provide certain useful data - such as speed traps.
According to Waze's website, Shabtai teamed up with entrepreneurs Uri Levine and Amir
Shinar to found Waze in 2008. It has raised $67 million in funding to date from firms
including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Blue Run Ventures, Hong Kong media and
real-estate mogul Li Ka-shing's Horizon Ventures and semiconductor company Qualcomm Inc.
According to Calcalist, Microsoft Corp owns 10.2% of the company, but Waze did not comment
The startup partnered with Facebook in October 2012, when Waze released an updated
version of its app that allowed users to share their drive with their Facebook
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