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Israel Expands Military Buffer Zone in Gaza

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday that the military operations in Gaza would go on for as long as it takes to end the rocket attacks against Israeli border towns. More than 65 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed in clashes since the offensive was launched last Thursday.

Sharon said the 5.5-mile buffer zone in northern Gaza is being extended to protect Israeli border towns from Palestinian rocket attacks. "We have to expand the buffer zone to put the Kassem rocket attacks out of range of Israeli communities."

In spite of the military offensive, militants lobbed another rocket into Israel Sunday. Hamas fighters also are threatening to target the industrial town of Ashkelon, about 7.5 miles farther into Israel. Sharon told Army Radio Sunday the military campaign in Gaza would not end, until the danger is over.

Troops and tanks have pushed into the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, where they have clashed with militants. On Sunday, troops opened a new front in Khan Younis to the south. Palestinian leaders have called the military campaign inhumane. The Arab League was holding an emergency meeting in Cairo to discuss the situation.

The increased military operations come after Sharon promised to carry out his plan to remove about 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza next year, despite opposition from his own political party.

In other news, Israel has lodged a complaint at the United Nations against the U.N. agency that deals with Palestinian issues, UNRWA (U.N. Relief and Works Agency). Israel claimed Palestinian militants transported a rocket in a vehicle with U.N. markings, based on video footage taken from an unmanned aircraft.

The black-and-white footage, taken by a drone - or unmanned aircraft - flying over the Gaza Strip, showed the militants driving off in the white van, with "U.N." marked in black on its roof. The IDF is furious at the U.N. representatives in the Gaza Strip, "who continuously stress that they are an international organization and of course is not in any way involved in terrorism," Channel 1 TV quoted IDF officials as saying.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen rejected the charges, stating that the object shown in the army video appears to be too small and too light to be a rocket. "The Kassam rocket, as it was implied to be, weighs between 32 and 50 kilos," he said. "No man is easily going to carry that in his hand, as it was carried. So, it cannot possibly be a heavy object. It is in all likelihood, if anybody looks twice at the picture, a stretcher, a portable stretcher that is folded."

Rescue worker Wahel Ghabayen, 38, said he had run with a stretcher to a school in Jabalya on Friday after he heard that someone there might have been wounded. The wounded boy had already been moved by the time he arrived, he said.

An UNRWA press statement also said the video does not indicate when or where it was taken. The Israeli military said it was taken over the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. This is not the first time Israel has complained about UNRWA. In the past, Israel also has accused the U.N. agency of an anti-Israel bias. The United Nations said it would investigate the latest allegations.

Other clips released by the IDF show terrorists firing Kassams from within the yard of a private house and from within civilian population centers. The films were taken by an Israeli drone (unmanned aircraft).

Kassams Confound Israeli Army

By DEBKAfile (Commentary)

A stunned relative of the two young children killed in the Palestinian Kassam missile attack in the southern Israeli city of Sderot last Wednesday, summed up Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's failure to put an end to this form of terrorism as he rushes ahead with his Gaza pullout plan.

"I saw a small boy covered with blood, and I went into shock. Then I saw a little girl whose legs had been blown off. I saw red. What is going on here? The prime minister is putting money in his pocket and we are being fed Kassams!"

The young man said it straight from the shoulder: Sharon is paid by the Israeli taxpayer to do a job, meaning that infants like Dorit Aniso, 2, are entitled to live and terrorists in the Gaza Strip must never be permitted to fire crude rockets of the type that blasted off the legs of Yuval Abebeh, 4. All the signs point to the fact that neither the Israeli army nor the Sharon government has a clue on how to defeat the homemade Kassam.

Anarchy may prevail in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, but there is method to the Palestinian madness. It not only enables Yasir Arafat to exercise complete control in the Gaza Strip but also allows him - as Israel watches helplessly - to use the territory for transforming his four-year old campaign of suicidal terror into a full-scale war.

The Palestinian Kassam onslaught owes its success to Israel's failure to shut down the network of weapons smuggling tunnels crisscrossing the Gaza-Egypt border. This underground system enables the Palestinians to import trained fighters and explosives from Egyptian northern Sinai virtually unhindered and build bigger and better Kassam warheads. It is only a matter of time before their range is lengthened to reach cities deeper inside Israel and make them more accurate.

The Palestinians had shown that they held the battlefield initiative in the current round of hostilities. Sharon is so obsessed with his Gaza pullout plan, which may have seemed feasible when it was first announced several months ago, that his hands are tied even though the Palestinians are fast turning his blueprint into their own weapon of operations against Israel.

Clearly, the Sharon government by locking itself into a preconceived plan is being thrown back on bad defense measures instead of pursuing effective offensive action that would offer Israel a true escape from harsh reality.

Kharrazi: Iran Ready to React if Israel Strikes Nuclear Plants

By Ha'aretz

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi considers Israel a threat to his nation's nuclear facilities. "When there is a threat, you have to take it into consideration and be prepared to react. We are prepared," Kharrazi told Newsweek in an interview.

When asked if Iran will use its Shihab missiles, Kharrazi replied only that "There are capabilities that we will use. Shihab missiles are well developed and made in Iran, and we are proud of having them."

The magazine also asked Kharrazi whether Iran supports the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He replied that if that is what the Palestinians decide that they want, then it will not upset Iran. However, he added, "We are for a one-state solution." He also claimed that Iran's nuclear enrichment program "is solely for producing fuel needed in our power plants. It is not for producing nuclear weapons."

Dutch Refuse Citizenship for Anne Frank

By Reuters

A bid to secure Jewish teenage diarist Anne Frank posthumous Dutch citizenship has failed, almost 60 years after her death in a Nazi concentration camp, officials said Sunday.

Frank and her family were betrayed to the Nazis while in hiding in German-occupied Amsterdam in 1944. She lost her German citizenship in 1941, years after fleeing persecution in Hitler's Germany. But she never became a Dutch citizen.

Dutch television network KRO said it had backed a bid to secure her posthumous citizenship after she was put on a list of 200 famous writers, painters, sports stars, politicians and scientists for its "The Greatest Dutch Person" series. "As part of the program... there was an effort to see if she could be awarded posthumous Dutch citizenship," KRO spokeswoman Monique Moeskops said. "The Justice Ministry said it was not possible."

Anne Frank - nominated by a panel of experts alongside 19th century painter Vincent van Gogh and soccer star Johan Cruyff for the series - was known not to have Dutch citizenship before she was nominated, the network said. It said there was no question of removing her from the list.

Dutch law does not allow citizenship to be awarded after someone's death, leaving Anne Frank stateless despite her deep ties to her adopted homeland and its canal-lined capital Amsterdam. "Although we are very sympathetic to the request from KRO it's not legally possible to award posthumous Dutch citizenship," the Justice Ministry said.

Anne Frank wrote her diary in the secret annex of a canal side house in Dutch, noting in it that she wanted to become a Dutch citizen. But she was stateless when she died in 1945. "We consider her to be Dutch. She wrote in Dutch, she thought in Dutch. She was as Dutch as can be," said Anne Frank House museum spokeswoman Patricia Bosboom. "She never actually was Dutch."

Born in Frankfurt in 1929, Anne Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, weeks before it was liberated. Her diary, first published in 1947 by her father Otto Frank, is the most widely read document to emerge from the Nazi Holocaust in which six million Jews were killed. It has been translated into more than 60 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Otto Frank, who survived the Holocaust, became a Dutch citizen in 1949. The house on the Prinsengracht where her family hid during World War 2 was saved from demolition in 1957 to become one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam.

Israeli Developing Airborne Car


An Israeli pilot, who is also an aeronautics engineer, has developed an aircraft called the X-Hawk that is able to land in places currently impossible for both helicopters and airplanes.

The Hebrew daily Yediot Achronot reported that Dr. Raffi Yoeli established his Urban Aerodynamics Company with the express purpose of creating his conceived aircraft. His invention, the X-Hawk, can take off and land vertically, but, unlike a helicopter, the X-Hawk does not have external propellers - which constitute the chief obstacle to close-proximity landing and hovering. The X-Hawk incorporates the propellers into the body of the aircraft.

Another feature of the innovative aircraft is that the X-Hawk has no wings. This, together with the lack of exposed propellers will enable the X-Hawk to get close to the windows of skyscrapers and fly low in populated areas without endangering either passengers or bystanders. Its appearance is that of a car.

The X-Hawk is causing excitement in law enforcement and rescue forces circles as it promises to revolutionize many existing methods. Some of the new prospects include enabling rescue from high-rise buildings and aerial police pursuit of ground targets. The X-Hawk is expected to be able to achieve a maximum speed of 125 mph and fly for up to an hour and a half straight (like most small helicopters).

The full-sized prototype is scheduled to be built in 2005, at which time Urban Aerodynamics will seek a license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Officials at the company hope that in a few years the construction work on the plane would be completed, at which point it will be put to use. Urban Aerodynamics has built just one prototype of the new aircraft thus far, which has completed several manned test-flights successfully.

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