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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 26, 2003, Vol. 11, No. 226

Iran Warns Israel against an Attack


Iran's defense minister warned that if Israel attacks its nuclear facility, his country would strike back using long-range missiles.

"We will strike Israel with all weapons at our disposal if the Zionist regime ventures to do so," Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani remarked to the Islamic Republic News Agency. In 1981, Israeli fighter planes targeted and destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor.

Four People Killed in Petach Tikva Suicide Bombing

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem) &

A suspected Palestinian suicide bomber killed at least three people and himself at a bus stop in Petach Tikva, outside Tel Aviv, and wounded more than 24 others. The attack came shortly after a separate incident in the Gaza Strip, in which a strike by an Israeli helicopter killed a senior Islamic militant and four others.

Witnesses said a suicide bomber set off the blast at a crowded bus stop located under the bridge at the Geha junction near Jabotinsky Street on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Two of the dead have been identified as Israeli women. Another victim, a man, died after being taken to a hospital. The bomber also died in the blast.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack. It issued a statement saying the bombing is in retaliation for an Israeli army raid last week into the West Bank city of Nablus. The Associated Press identified the bomber as 18-year-old Shahed Hanami, from the village of Beit Fureik, near Shechem.

The explosion occurred during the evening rush hour, when the street was packed with cars, and buses. Rescue workers reported difficulties in reaching the area because of heavy traffic. Israeli police blocked off nearby streets to enable survivors to be evacuated to nearby hospitals. Police chased two people seen fleeing from the area and issued a high security alert. The Israeli Army also imposed a full closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the wake of the attack.

The bombing was the first since an Oct. 4 Palestinian suicide bombing at a restaurant in the northern city of Haifa that killed 23 people. The attack came shortly after missiles from an Israeli military helicopter killed a senior member of the Islamic Jihad, a group that frequently carries out suicide bombings against Israel. A military spokesman says the Islamic Jihad leader, Makled Hamid, was responsible for the death of many Israelis. The military said the militant was planning another major attack.

Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz described Hamid as planning a large-scale terrorist attack. "This evening, the IDF has prevented what I would call a mega-terror attack," he said. Mofaz did not elaborate further.

Hamid was riding in a Subaru with four others, according to Israel Radio, when IDF helicopters fired two missiles at the car as it drove through Gaza's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, a frequent source of terrorism. Israel's Channel 1 reported that Hamid was behind a terror attack that killed three IDF soldiers three weeks ago, as well as the attack on the Kissufin checkpoint this past Tuesday.

In a Palestinian cabinet statement, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia condemned Thursday's violence, expressing regret for "the continuation of the cycle of assassinations, liquidations and attacks against civilians on both sides." Qureia called for the conclusion of a reciprocal ceasefire.

Yossi Sedbon, Tel Aviv district police commander, noted that the junction is regularly used by PA Arabs waiting for Israeli contractors looking for cheap labor to pick them up. Because of this, the suicide bomber was able to approach the bus stop without raising suspicion.

Israeli "Steadicopter" Requires No Pilot


A new unmanned helicopter, designed by an Israeli company and called the Steadicopter, offers new military and rescue capabilities. However development of the Steadicopter was slowed down due to the suspicious disappearance of the Steadicopter prototype last month.

The Steadicopter, which weighs 30 pounds and is five feet long, had just completed its final test flights according to CEO Tuvia Segal. He said the helicopter was unique in that it was capable of independent flying without remote control. "Many companies have tried but none of their tests worked," he told Globes.

The developers of the Steadicopter were surprised last month to find its prototype had been stolen - presumably by someone who wanted to copy it - from their plant in Kfar Maccabi near Tel Aviv. No money or computer software was taken during the break-in, leading the company to suspect espionage.

Steadicopter's Business Development Manager, Amir Rochman said what makes the Steadicopter unique is that the unmanned robotic helicopters are fully autonomous. The Steadicopter can take off, hover, fly, and land in a fully autonomous manner, and therefore can be operated by novice users. "The Steadicopter is fully autonomous. The performance of flight mission can be implemented without the need of human control."

Steadicopter developed a unique system that overcame previous developers' stabilization and flight control problems, therefore paving the way for the first completely autonomous unmanned helicopter

"The system is designed for surveillance and control of designated areas, and provides real-time information to the command center for passing on to the operating ground forces. The helicopter is equipped with stabilized flight control systems, cameras for day and night vision and receivers/transmitters for real time operation and monitoring. The ground control system is composed of a PC with navigation and flight control software that enables the operator to guide the helicopter to the location of the event using a digital map or an aerial image of the area," said Rochman.

"During the course of the flight, real-time video images of the events are sent to the PC or to an external video screen with vital information for the control of the events on the ground. The system is designed to be integrated in a command control center operation, as well as a field mobile operation from a portable computer," he added.

According to Rochman, the Steadicopter can carry up to 40 pounds of video equipment and will sell for approximately $125,000, depending on the electronic components installed. This price would be only a fraction of the $1 million cost of currently available unmanned aerial vehicles of this type.

"We're looking at a period of four months until the product hits the market," Rochman said. "Our first thrust will be to the Israeli market, in order to get feedback close to the customers. But then we certainly plan to focus on the U.S. market."

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