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New Hope For Kidney Patients


Researchers at the Weizmann University of Science in Rehovot have developed a method that, it is hoped, will enable the growth of a new kidney in the bodies of those waiting for kidney transplants. Results of the tests, carried out by Prof. Yair Reisner and Dr. Benny Dekel, were published Monday in Nature Medicine. The process has already succeeded in mice, but another year or more of research is required before tests can be carried out on people. Some 50,000 people are awaiting kidney transplants in the U.S. alone, and 2,000 died this past year while waiting.

Iraq Tried To Bio-Bomb Israel; Pm Says Danger Is Real


U.S. sources released Monday for publication that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein attempted to attack Israel with biological weapons during the 1991 Gulf War, but was foiled thanks to American intervention.

A heretofore classified CIA document shows that the Iraqi plan involved a test phase wherein three Iraqi MiG-21 fighter jets would fly towards Israel in order to bomb targets with conventional ordnance. In the second phase, another three conventionally armed MiGs were to fly as decoys towards Israeli targets, while a fourth plane armed with biological agents was to hit another unnamed Israeli target. The attack plan was foiled when the first three planes were downed shortly after takeoff from their base in southern Iraq.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, visiting Home Front Headquarters, said that the Israeli public must be told the whole truth regarding the foreseen war with Iraq, namely, "that Iraq may in fact attack Israel." He said that all measures are being taken, first among them being "tight security coordination, in an unprecedented manner, with the United States."

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ruth Yaron emphasized Monday that the Israeli public is well-protected in the face of a possible Iraqi attack, in terms of personal equipment as well as passive and active defensive systems protecting Israel's airspace.

"The Israeli population is trained and familiar with the various systems that are intended to provide personal protection," she said, adding that in the 2-3 minutes of advance warning before a missile falls, the public "can enter protected areas, put on their masks and closely monitor the instructions that are broadcast in the media." Yaron emphasized the importance of closely following these instructions. "The Home Front Command did not exist in the previous war [Gulf War], but it is the professional body that exists to assist the public. I believe that we are better prepared in both the public and the military than during the previous war." She said that the authorities are preparing for every possible scenario including less likely, but potentially dangerous, possibilities."

Israel, US to Hold Joint Military Exercises

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel and the United States are to hold joint military exercises this week as the Israeli government ponders additional steps to protect its population against a possible attack by Iraq. U.S. troops are expected to arrive in Israel over the coming days for the joint operations, which are to include steps to integrate U.S. and Israeli anti-missile systems designed to protect Israel from a possible Iraqi attack.

A U.S. led attack against Iraq is widely viewed as increasingly likely and fears are rising here in Israel that if war breaks out, Iraq will lash out with missile attacks against Israel. The worst-case scenario is that such missiles would contain biological or chemical warheads.

The government is to decide shortly whether to launch a massive campaign to inoculate the general population against smallpox. The Health Ministry says it has enough vaccine to immunize the entire Jewish and Arab Israeli population of 6.6 million, and can do so within a few days. Israel is also stockpiling large amounts of antibiotics and other medical supplies, and Israelis are being urged to get gas masks at distribution centers around the country.

Israeli media are full of the country's plans to prepare for a possible Iraqi attack, including upcoming public awareness and educational campaigns. But in spite of such detailed plans, there are clear indications that the Israeli public is nervous.

Ha'aretz reported in its Monday edition that travel agencies are receiving an increasing number of inquiries about travel abroad. The newspaper reports that some Israelis have already purchased tickets for mid-January with plans to stay abroad for several months if necessary.

Israeli Forces Kill 2 Senior Palestinian Militants

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli troops shot and killed two leading Palestinian militants near the West Bank town of Jenin on Monday. Palestinian officials said the men were shot as they rode on a tractor on the road leading from the village of Burkin to Jenin.

The Palestinians accused Israel of carrying out a targeted attack on the men. One of the dead, Shaman Sobih, was reported to be a senior Hamas militiaman and was said to be on Israel's wanted list. The second man was identified as Mustafa Fast a member of Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction.

Elsewhere, Palestinian security officials and hospital workers said a half-dozen Israeli tanks and an armored bulldozer moved into the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday.

According to Palestinian witnesses two Palestinians were wounded by gunfire and the bulldozer destroyed two vacant houses and three olive groves. The Israeli army said it was checking the report.

Lieberman Holds Talks with Palestinians, Israelis

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) has held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as part of his tour of the Middle East. During a visit to the West Bank town of Ramallah on Monday, Lieberman expressed support for a Palestinian state and spoke of the desperate conditions facing Palestinians. During talks earlier with Israel's prime minister, the former vice presidential candidate said both Israel and the United States are involved in a fight against terrorism.

Lieberman was in Ramallah Monday to meet with several Palestinian officials, including Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo and cabinet minister Saeb Erekat. The senator was said to be taken aback by the amount of destruction in the city, which has been re-occupied by Israeli troops since June. He spoke of the desperate humanitarian conditions facing Ramallah's residents.

The lawmaker also said there is strong support in U.S. political circles for Palestinian statehood, but he said how quickly that happens, depends on strong leadership among the Palestinians and in the world. Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew with distant relatives in Israel, is considered a frontrunner to be the Democratic Party's candidate in the U.S. presidential elections in 2004. The senator said he would decide early next year whether to seek the nomination.

Lieberman met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Sunday and said that both Israel and the United States are trying to defeat terrorist enemies seeming to draw a connection between Israel's conflict with the Palestinian and the U.S.-led global war on terrorism. The reasons for Senator Lieberman's current Middle East tour are unclear but the area, as well as Italy and Ireland, are stops favored by U.S. presidential hopefuls.

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