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Eitam Worried About Dimona Nuke Facility's Ability to Withstand Quake

By Ha'aretz

Housing and Construction Minister Effi Eitam says he is having sleepless nights worrying about the ability of the nuclear reactor in Dimona to withstand a serious earthquake. Responding to an agenda proposal in the Knesset, Eitam said his ministry had ordered experts to send him and the prime minister a report about the ability of all security facilities and energy installations to withstand quakes. The reactor lies along the Syrian-African Rift Valley fault line.

Mel Gibson's Dad Rants Against Jews

By United Press International

Mel Gibson's 85-year-old father called a New York radio talk show, ranting about Jewish conspiracies and calling the Holocaust a lie. "(Jewish people) are after one world religion and one world government," Hutton Gibson, who is Roman Catholic, told Steve Feuerstein of "Speak Your Piece!" on WSNR, the New York Daily News reported Thursday. "That's why they've attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine."

Hutton Gibson also said the Holocaust did not happen. "They claimed that there were 6.2 million (Jews) in Poland before the war, and they claimed after the war there were 200,000, therefore he must have killed 6 million of them," he said. "They simply got up and left! They were all over the Bronx and Brooklyn and Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles."

Terrorist Conference: 'Huge' Attacks on Israel Planned


The Arab news portal reported Thursday that Muslim terrorist groups - including Hamas, Hizbullah, Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Ansar Al-Islam and others - decided on a renewed offensive of attacks on Israelis and Israeli interests abroad. The attacks will include suicide bombings and assassinations of Israeli officials.

The report is based on an interview, carried Thursday in the Kuwaiti Al-Siyasah newspaper, with an unnamed Arab diplomat in Amman, Jordan. According to the diplomat, 40 people, including representatives of the Arab terror groups, Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian intelligence officials, met in northern Lebanon in early February. The decision for the new offensive, according to the newspaper, came as a result of growing criticism among Arabs of their "silence" over Israeli activities.

The only objection to the plans, according to the diplomat, came from Syrian and Lebanese officials - who expressed the request that their borders not be used for the attacks.

U.S. Delegation Discusses Disengagement Plan with Israeli PM

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

A high-level U.S. delegation has met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss his proposal to withdraw settlers from the Gaza Strip. Sharon's office issued a statement saying the Israeli leader gave the U.S. envoys a broad overview of his plan to dismantle most of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and some in the West Bank.

It said the prime minister remains committed to President Bush's vision and stressed that the "road map" peace plan is the only diplomatic plan acceptable to Israel. According to U.S. officials, the three American envoys: National Security Council members Steve Hadley and Elliot Abrams, and the State Department's William Burns, came to listen and find out what Sharon has in mind, and report to President Bush.

Sharon has said that if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, he will remove as many as 17 of the 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have said that while they welcome any dismantling of settlements, they reject any attempt by Israel to unilaterally impose the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Israeli officials say Sharon's disengagement plan is not incompatible with the U.S.-endorsed international road map for peace plan. Israel maintains that the Palestinians are not upholding their part of the plan, and that is why unilateral steps may be required. The Palestinians blame Israel for the lack of progress on the "road map" plan.

The United States has been wary of endorsing Sharon's plan, not wanting unilateral action to take the place of a broader negotiated settlement.

The U.N. Middle East envoy says that Prime Minister Sharon's proposal to unilaterally withdraw settlers from the Gaza Strip would be counterproductive. Speaking at the United Nations on Wednesday, Terje Roed-Larsen said any withdrawal should be carried out with Palestinian and international cooperation.

Israel Developing Airship the Size of a Football Field

By Ha'aretz

The Israel Aircraft Industries is developing a craft more than 600 yards long and 180 feet wide that will be geostatically positioned more than 12 miles high to photograph objects as far away as 600 miles, sending the images back to a ground station.

"It will be an airship the size of a football field, nothing like it in the world," says engineer Avi Baum, head of the R&D department at Malam in the IAI. "The quality of the photographs will be very high, with optimum resolution. The quality will be good enough to read the license plates on moving cars on highways."

The airship will be able to carry a variety of payloads for both civilian and military purposes. The platform could serve as a communications transponder between planes, satellites and the ground, capable of intelligence gathering and other purposes. The plane could provide broadband Internet, relay TV and radio signals, monitor air, land and naval traffic, as well as provide weather forecasting services.

Part of the challenge is to devise solar panels that would collect solar energy, which could be converted into electricity for operating the plane's systems. The plan calls for the plane to be divided into two separate compartments, one containing air and the other helium. On the ground, most of the plane would be full of air. The helium would be compressed, making it heavier than air. But to lift off, the helium would gradually by released and fill the air pockets.

To keep the plane in geostationary position, a steering mechanism would be needed, based on a large rear propeller controlled by an electric motor. Since the idea is for the plane to remain aloft for a very long time, there would be a need for a continual supply of energy. That leads to the need for solar panels on the upper surface of the plane, collecting energy during the day and storing it in fuel cells.

No runway is necessary for launching the plane, and it could be made of very flexible lightweight polymers. The current specifications say the plane would weigh only 10 tons and carry payloads of about 1.9 tons.

With the feasibility study competed, the IAI now faces the challenge of finding the estimated $100-150 million to build it. Malam, says Baum, is seeking an international partner for the project, while also considering industrial partners. Lockheed Martin is also at work on a similar concept, and the Israeli project has been presented to it. One possibility is for the two companies to join forces.

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