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The worldwide eclectic news staff of Israel Faxx wishes you a Happy New Year for 2004

Using Garlic to Fight Cancer


Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot have developed a new method to selectively kill cancer cells, leaving healthy ones intact. And it uses a chemical occurring naturally in garlic.

The scientists of Weizmann's Biological Chemistry Department, Drs. Aharon Rabinkov, Talia Miron and Marina Mironchick, working with Profs. David Mirelman and Meir Wilchek, have successfully destroyed malignant tumors in mice using their newly developed method. The key to the scientists' success lies in the development of a unique, two-step system for delivering the cancer-wrecking chemical straight to the tumor cells.

Allicin, as the chemical is called, is the substance that gives garlic its distinctive aroma and flavor. For many years, scientists studying allicin have known that it is as toxic as it is pungent. It has been shown to kill not only cancer cells, but also the cells of disease-causing microbes, and even healthy human body cells. Fortunately for our body's cells, allicin is highly unstable, and breaks down quickly once ingested. However, the rapid breakdown and undiscriminating toxicity presented twin hurdles to creating an allicin-based therapy.

Now, the Weizmann scientists have solved both these problems by designing an ingenious delivery method that works with the pinpoint accuracy of a smart bomb. Their findings were reported in the December issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

While the team succeeded in blocking the growth of gastric tumors in mice, the scientists note that the method could work for most types of cancer. The technique could prove invaluable for preventing metastasis following surgery. "Even though doctors cannot detect where metastatic cells have migrated and lodged themselves," says Mirelman, the system developed at the Weizmann Institute would allow the toxic allicin to "chase them down and destroy them anywhere in the body."

Israel Changes Route of West Bank Security Barrier

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel, acting under strong international pressure, says it is making changes to the route of its West Bank security barrier to try to make life easier for the Palestinians.

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they plan to alter the route of the controversial security barrier. Under the changes, Israel intends to widen the opening in the barrier that links the Palestinian town of Qalqilyah to the rest of the West Bank.

Under the original plan, Qalqilyah was faced with being enclosed by the barrier from both the east and the west, making it an enclave. The motivation behind that version of the plan was to allow Jewish settlers free movement between their communities and in the direction of Israel.

No decision has yet been made to remove the barrier on the eastern side of Qalqilyah, but a large opening will be cut into it, in a bid to give Palestinian residents greater freedom of movement. Israeli commentators say the change has been prompted by the continuing protests in the town against the project, which has attracted international attention and harmed Israel's reputation abroad.

Israel also has dropped plans to encircle the Palestinian village of Baka al-Sharkiya in a similar fashion. While agreeing to make such changes, Israel is still determined to complete the barrier, which runs along and inside the West Bank. Israel says the project, which consists of razor wire in some sections and concrete slabs in others, is already stopping Palestinian suicide bombers from entering the Jewish state.

The Palestinian leadership claims the barrier is an attempt by Israel to seize more territory and to unilaterally determine the borders of a future Palestinian state. Israel insists the barrier does not constitute a new political boundary and that it can be removed if and when there is a final peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Israeli Troops Raid Nablus

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli forces have moved back into the West Bank city of Nablus, engaging in gun battles with Palestinian militants and imposing a new curfew. Soldiers raided Nablus for the second time in two weeks as part of ongoing efforts aimed at arresting wanted Palestinian militants. The troops moved into the ancient quarter, or Old City, of Nablus, where they ran into fierce resistance from Palestinian militants who opened fire on them. The soldiers returned fire.

Israel has imposed a military curfew on the city center, forcing about 40,000 people to stay in their homes. The latest raid occurred less than 24 hours after soldiers withdrew from the city, ending a two-week operation in which they arrested dozens of suspected Palestinian terrorists. The Israeli army says the raids against Nablus will continue as long as, what it calls, the city's terrorist infrastructure remains intact.

The sweep has been one of the biggest by the Israeli army in recent months, reflecting a determination to capture militants in what Israel sees as the absence of any effort by the Palestinian Authority to confront armed Palestinian groups. The IDF has also been operating with renewed vigor in the Gaza Strip.

In a two-day operation in the Rafah refugee camp last week, Israeli soldiers destroyed a tunnel that had been used to smuggle weapons into Gaza from neighboring Egypt. At least nine Palestinians were killed in the raid during exchanges of gunfire between militants and the troops. A number of homes also were destroyed.

On Monday, Palestinian residents held demonstrations calling for an end to the Israeli military incursions and the destruction of their homes. The unrelenting violence has frozen efforts to implement the so-called Roadmap plan to end the bloodshed and grant Palestinians full statehood by 2005.

To reach this goal, the plan calls for the dismantling and disarming of Palestinian groups responsible for more than three years of attacks against Israelis.

Arab Knesset Member Compares IDF Soldiers to Nazis


Arab MK (Ta'al) Ahmed Tibi, a close associate of Yasir Arafat, compared IDF soldiers monitoring the counter-terrorism partition fence to Nazis during WWII, Israel Radio reported. Tibi reportedly made his remarks in Arabic in an el-Arabia interview.

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