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El Al to Raise Ticket Prices Due to Jet Fuel Costs

By Ha'aretz

El Al Israel Airlines will raise the prices of its flight tickets between three and five percent to overseas destinations in response to the rising cost of aviation fuel. El Al is following the lead of foreign airlines such as British Airways which have announced their intentions to more than double the fuel levies on long-distance flights in order to partially compensate for rising fuel costs. El Al said Wednesday "due to the dramatic rise in the cost of jet fuel around the world, the corresponding price adjustments made to flight costs are unavoidable... The company is examining the timing and level of the price increases." The price increase would need to be authorized by the Transportation Ministry.

Car Bomb Attack Injures Six at Northern Jerusalem Checkpoint

By VOA News &

One person has died and at least 13 people were injured when a car bomb exploded at a busy West Bank checkpoint Wednesday afternoon. A terrorist detonated a bomb at an improvised military checkpoint near A-Ram Checkpoint on Jerusalem's northern border with Ramallah.

Earlier in the afternoon, checkpoints were established in response to credible intelligence community warnings of an imminent attack - explaining terrorists were attempting to enter the capital from a northern border point crossing to perpetrate an attack in the capital. A terror alert continues at this time, focusing on the northern capital, with security officials explaining another terrorist remains at large according to intelligence community reports.

It appears the terrorist was riding in an Arab taxi heading toward the capital, intending to carry out an attack. When a border policeman approached the vehicle at the inspection point, the terrorist detonated the bomb he was carrying. Unconfirmed reports indicate the terrorist was killed. A second explosion was also reported after the first emergency units arrived on the scene. It does not appear there were any wounded from the second blast.

Six persons were injured, three seriously. The others appear in light condition. The seriously injured were transported to Hadassah Ein Kerem trauma unit in the capital. The others were transported to Hadassah Mount Scopus and Shaare Zedek Hospitals, also in the capital. Some of the injured are Arabs, other passengers of the taxi occupied by the terrorist.

The al-Aqsa Brigade of Yasir Arafat's Fatah terror organization released statements claiming responsibility for the attack.

The Kalandria checkpoint is on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem and is the busiest in the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinians cross through it each day as they go to and from jobs in Israel.

Earlier Wednesday Israeli troops and tanks raided the Khan Younis Refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in an operation that left more than a dozen Palestinians wounded, three of them critically. The nighttime raid sparked clashes between Palestinian gunmen and the Israeli troops who returned fire. The witnesses said the casualties occurred when an Israeli helicopter fired at a group of Palestinian gunmen.

Israel said its forces destroyed 13 abandoned buildings that bordered the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim. They said the building had been used by Palestinian gunmen to fire on Israelis. The incursion ended when the Israeli troops withdrew just before dawn.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian teenager was killed and 10 others wounded by Israeli forces in an incident Tuesday in Nablus during a clash between stone throwing teenagers and an Israeli jeep patrol.

And two Israelis received minor injuries in a shooting and bomb attack on an armored bus and three civilian vehicles Tuesday near the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Shooting incidents that caused no injuries were also reported in Nablus and Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

Iran Tests Missile Capable of Hitting Israel

By Reuters

Iran's defense ministry said on Wednesday it had carried out a field test of the latest version of its Shihab-3 medium-range ballistic missile which defense experts say can reach Israel or U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf. Shihab means meteor in Farsi. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said last week Iran was working on improvements to the range and accuracy of the Shihab-3 in response to Israel's moves to boost its anti-missile capability.

A defense ministry spokesman confirmed a state television report that the test was carried out "to assess the latest developments implemented on this missile." He declined to give any further details.

Iran said its missile program is purely for deterrent purposes. Tehran also denied U.S. and Israeli accusations that it is seeking to develop nuclear warheads which could be delivered by the Shihab-3.Based on the North Korean Nodong-1 and modified with Russian technology, the Shihab-3 is thought to have a range of 800 miles, which would allow it to strike anywhere in Israel.

Amid media speculation that Israel may try to halt Iran's nuclear program by carrying out air strikes on some atomic facilities in Iran, Iranian officials have said Tehran would retaliate promptly and strongly to any such attack. "If Israel behaves like a lunatic and attacks the Iranian nation's interests, we will come down on their heads like a mallet and break their bones," the ISNA student news agency quoted Revolutionary Guards Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi as saying on Wednesday.

Israel successfully tested its Arrow II anti-missile project in the United States last month. It was the seventh time the Arrow II had worked but the first time it had destroyed a Scud missile - similar to the Shihab-3 - in flight.

"The Israelis have recently tried to increase their missile capability and we will also try to upgrade our Shihab-3 missile in every respect," the ISNA students news agency quoted Shamkhani as saying last week. He said the improvements to the Shihab-3 "will not be limited to the missile's range and will include all its specifications."

Iran deployed the Shihab-3 missiles to its Revolutionary Guards last July after preliminary field tests were successfully completed. Six of the sand-colored missiles, bearing slogans, which said "We will stamp on America" and "We will wipe Israel from the face of the earth", were displayed at an annual military parade last September. Iran has not said how many of the missiles it has so far manufactured. Military analysts say questions remain about its reliability and accuracy.

A senior Israeli defense source said Israel believed Tehran was developing a Shihab-4 missile with a range of 1,054 miles capable of reaching Europe. Iran has denied this. "This 'new and improved' Shihab-3 could well be Iran's way of producing the extended-range missile while avoiding the Mark-4 label which would draw international concern," he said.

Seeking a Solution for Mass Aliyah From Indian Sub-Continent


The Chief Rabbinate is making intense efforts to examine the possibility of facilitating the immigration to Israel of thousands of Indians, of the Manmassi tribe, who claim to be descendants of the Israelite tribe of Menashe.

Last week, a delegation of the Chief Rabbinate, under the auspices of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, traveled to the border area between India and Pakistan, where a large community of Manmassi has congregated.

Many members of the Manmassi have immigrated to Israel where they underwent conversion for the sake of removing any doubt. However, the Interior Ministry recently decided to halt immigration for the purposes of conversion. Many Manmassi members still seek to return to the Jewish people and to Israel.

Anti-Semitic Incidents-- Also at Auschwitz


While on a tour of the Auschwitz death camp and memorial in Poland on Sunday, a group of Jewish students from Israel and abroad were confronted by three French males who shouted anti-Semitic and anti-Israel epithets at them. While the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) group was being led through the site, the French tourists ran up and began cursing and shouting at the Jewish students.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Maya Ober, 21, of Poland as saying the first assailant "told us to go back to Israel and said that we were stupid and should be ashamed to walk around with an Israeli flag."

The following day, vandals defiled a Jewish cemetery and war memorial in Lyon, France. Swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were painted on 56 graves and on a memorial to Jewish soldiers who fought for France in World War I. President Jacques Chirac, the government and Jewish leaders condemned the vandalism on Tuesday. More than 300 tombs or graves, mostly Jewish but some Muslim, have been desecrated in eastern France just since April. France is home to 600,000 Jews and five million Muslims.

To the east, in the Czech Republic, eighty tombstones in an ancient Jewish cemetery were knocked over and damaged according to reports from Hranice, a township located 180 miles east of Prague. Vandals also sprayed swastikas on many of the tombstones.

Nominated CIA Chief's Record on Pollard


The man nominated by President George Bush to be the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fl.), has been a fierce opponent of the release of imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

Goss, a former CIA operative and chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, was among the authors of an unprecedented 1999 proposed House Resolution specifying, "Jonathan Jay Pollard should serve his full sentence of life imprisonment and should not receive pardon, reprieve, or any other form of executive clemency from the President of the United States."

At the time, Goss was quoted as saying, "He is one of the worst traitors in our nation's history. There is absolutely no reason to let this guy out of jail. None." The "Pollard Bill" is currently still in committee.

Pollard, declared a citizen of Israel and formally recognized as an agent of the state, is in his 19th year of a life sentence in Butner, N.C. on charges of espionage on behalf of Israel. A civilian American Naval intelligence analyst in the mid-1980s, Pollard discovered that information vital to Israel's security was being deliberately withheld by certain elements within the U.S. national security establishment and he acted to transfer that data to Israel.

For a reply to the claim that Pollard is a "traitor," please see

Israeli Invents 'Walk on Water' Device


An Israeli has received a patent for an invention that would allow people to walk on water.

Yoav Rosen told the New York Times that he had dreamt of inventing such a device since he was a child in Jerusalem. Although over 100 patents exist for devices intended to allow one to tread upon water, Rosen said that, "unfortunately, none of them actually work."

Rosen's invention is made of Styrofoam and plywood, shaped like skis, which are tied together so the walker's legs will not spread apart while walking. Attached to the footgear are flaps that allow each foot to move forward "in real distance terms, and not just relatively to the backward-pushing foot," Rosen said.

The inventor, whose web site features much information on his invention, said he hopes to see "water-walking" become a common pastime.

Israeli Firm Tests Long-Lasting Nose Drop Vaccine for the Flu


Every year, over 100,000 flu sufferers are hospitalized in the U.S. due to complications. While most people overcome the perennial illness after a few days of high fever and bed rest, weaker segments of the population - babies, the elderly and the ill - are liable to die as a result of the flu. The annual damage caused by the flu to the economy of the U.S. alone is estimated at over $25 billion.

Now an Israeli company has developed a revolutionary nose drop vaccine for influenza, which promises to protect people of all ages for five years against all present and future strains of the flu.

The patented vaccine - developed by startup BiondVax - has completed successful laboratory testing on mice and is now securing funds for clinical tests on humans. The vaccine is based on 20 years of research by Weizmann Institute of Science Prof. Ruth Arnon, who earlier in her career was a senior member of the team that developed the breakthrough drug Copaxone for multiple sclerosis.

Conventional flu injections are good for only one season, as the virus mutates every year. According to Isaac Devash, chairman of BiondVax, their new vaccine is not dependent on variable strains, so it will be long lasting and more protective. Only a single drop need be inserted in the nose to be effective, he says.

"It's a quantum leap in technology," he told ISRAEL21c. "It's a totally different concept from other vaccinations. What generally happens today is that there are 120 monitoring stations globally that look for new strains of virus around the world. Once it shows up, they identify the surface of the virus and develop a vaccine to combat it."

"Prof. Arnon said 'I don't want to play that game'. It's tedious work identifying new strains of the virus and there are always new ones coming up. She said let's look conceptually at the virus - beneath the surface - to see if there are particular elements that don't change. And then let's make a vaccine out of those parts which are universal in all viruses," explained Devash.

Arnon, 71, is a world-famous scientist whose list of prizes and honorary degrees includes the French Legion of Honor, the Wolf Prize for Medicine and the Israel Prize for Medicine. She's published has published over 400 articles on immunology. She decided to conduct research on flu viruses "because I thought that we needed a system that suited human beings, and we already know a lot about the flu virus. Another reason why I decided on it is that mice are sensitive to the same strains of flu as are human beings, so that research can be done on them in the lab. That's a very important point. With HIV, for example, there is no reliable model in animals," she told Ha'aretz.

The influenza virus - or 'flu' - is an acute respiratory tract infection that can easily spread via coughing, sneezing or even hand-to-hand contact. During an epidemic, the virus infects 5%-20% of the entire population. Global pandemics occur every 10-15 years due to major antigenic changes in the virus and are independent of season. The 'Spanish Flu' pandemic took the lives of more people during the years 1918-1919 than did the First World War (20 - 40 million people).

Currently available vaccines are based on predictions as to which virus strain will be prevalent in the forthcoming season. Failure to correctly predict the prevalent strains and their unexpected antigenic changes are the main reason for the reduced level of efficacy demonstrated by currently available vaccines.

"Our first milestone was to establish that the vaccine was effective on humanized mice. It was the proof concept which we needed to move ahead." said Ron Babecoff, BiondVax 's founder and CEO. The challenge ahead for BiondVax is to elicit similar results with humans during clinical trials. To that end, the company recently launched a $4 million financing round to finance human clinical trials of the intra-nasal flu vaccine.

Babecoff said the company's business model called for reached Phase II human clinical trials in 2006 at a cost of only $4 million. "If this stage succeeds, we can link up with a major strategic partner to carry out Phase III clinical trials. The strategic partner will pledge additional resources and register the vaccine worldwide," he told Globes.

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