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Iran Threatens Retaliation if Nuclear Plants are Hit

By Reuters

Iran threatened on Monday to strike back at Israel or any other country that attacked its nuclear facilities. U.S. and Israeli officials accuse Iran of seeking to develop atomic bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran denies the charges saying it only intends to produce electricity from nuclear power plants. "If Israel or any other country attacks any site in Iran, we know no limits to threaten their interests," Deputy Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr said. "That means anywhere in the world, within their borders or outside it," he told reporters.

Palestinian Leaders Trying to Visit Arafat Despite Wife's Objections

By Ha'aretz

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his predecessor Mahmoud Abbas, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, arrived in Paris on Monday night to check on the condition of Yasir Arafat, after Arafat's wife publicly accused them of seeking to "bury alive" the ailing PA chairman. The delegation is determined to clarify the exact nature of Arafat's health problems.

The PA leaders departed from Jordan on Monday evening in a private jet and are expected to go on Tuesday morning to the French military hospital where Arafat is being treated. However, a hospital spokesman on Monday said visiting rights were restricted given the delicate nature of Arafat's health. He remains "stable" in intensive care, Gen. Christian Estripeau told reporters.

The leaders are also due to meet with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and French President Jacques Chirac to discuss Arafat's medical condition. They are expected to ask the president to order the Percy Military Hospital where Arafat is hospitalized to present the delegation with a full report on Arafat's condition - something Mrs. Arafat has so far prevented.

In what she called "an appeal to the Palestinian people," broadcast live by the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network, Suha Arafat accused Palestinian officials on their way to Paris of conspiring to usurp the role her husband has held for four decades as Palestinian leader. "Let it be known to the honest Palestinian people that a bunch of those who want to inherit are coming to Paris," she screamed in Arabic over the telephone.

"You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you they are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive," she continued, using Arafat's nom de guerre. "He is all right and he is going home. God is great." She said she was calling from Arafat's bedside at the French military hospital, where the 75-year-old leader has been in intensive care since last Wednesday.

With Arafat clinging to life, Mrs. Arafat has been one of a handful of people to see her husband and has tightly controlled information on his condition. Palestinian officials have grumbled that Mrs. Arafat, who has spent the past three years living in France, has gained too much power. "It's an absurd situation that Suha is sitting there and deciding when, how and who," deputy Palestinian cabinet minister Sufian Abu Zaida, told Army Radio. "This is a woman who hasn't seen her husband for three years. It is bizarre that at the end of his days, his wife decides who enters and who does not. Yasir Arafat is not the private property of Suha Arafat," Abu Zaida continued. Abdel Rahim said Arafat "does not belong to a small family but to the entire Palestinian nation."

Sources in the defense establishment believe Tuesday will be the day on which the Palestinians will ask to disconnect Arafat from life support and announce his death. Tuesday night marks Lailat al-Kader, the night Muslims believe God revealed the Koran to the prophet Mohammed. The death of the Palestinian leader on that day will, therefore, be symbolic.

Preparing for Arafat's Funeral


Israel's police have prepared "Operation New Reality" for Yasir Arafat's death, funeral and aftermath. Worst-case eventualities for which the security forces have prepared include an out-of-control mass funeral procession, including a possible attempt to kidnap the body and bury it in Jerusalem.

Once Arafat is finally declared dead, the police will go into high alert: all vacations will be canceled, Arabs will not be allowed to enter the Temple Mount or the Machpelah Cave in Hebron, and police and army helicopters will fly over areas where riots are feared. The IDF will declare closures in Judea and Samaria, and will encircle the PA-controlled cities. Protection of some public figures will be enhanced for fear of "revenge" killings, and reinforcements will be sent to prisons holding Israel's 4,000 Arab security prisoners. Similarly, security will be enhanced around Jewish towns in Yesha, at border crossings, and in crowded areas.

What to Do with Arafat's Billions?


Al-Jazeera has reported that a "bitter fight [has] broken out over who should control [Arafat's] fortune, estimated to be between $4.2 billion and $6.5 billion." This is probably the highest estimate of Arafat's wealth, with others ranging between $300 million and $3 billion. A report by Forbes magazine in March of 2003 reported that Arafat was rated #6 on the list of the world's richest "Kings, Queens and Despots." A CBS report last year stated, "U.S. officials estimate Arafat's personal nest egg at between $1 billion and $3 billion."

It is widely known that Arafat purposely blurred the line between money given to the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and himself, and that it will not be easy to separate them once his death is finalized. Al-Jazeera reports that he owns a number of hotels and holiday resorts in Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Austria; is the main shareholder in two cellular telephone companies operating in Tunisia and Algeria; and is in partnership in some of his businesses with Arab politicians and entrepreneurs such as Rifaat Assad, a brother of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad.

A CBS "60 Minutes" report of March 2003 gave many details about Arafat's fortune and how he misused it. Excerpts: "Arafat diverted nearly $1 billion in public funds to ensure his political survival, but a lot more is unaccounted for... Although the money for [his] portfolio came from public funds like Palestinian taxes, virtually none of it was used for the Palestinian people; it was all controlled by Arafat. And, [accountant] Prince says, none of these dealings were made public...

"Martin Indyk, a top adviser on the Middle East in the Clinton administration and now head of the Saban Center, a Washington think-tank, says Arafat was always traveling the world, looking for handouts... "Arafat for years would cry poor, saying, 'I can't pay the salaries, we're gonna have a disaster here, the Palestinian economy is going to collapse,'" says Indyk. And we would all mouth those words: 'The Palestinian economy is going to collapse if we don't do something about this.' But at the same time, he's accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Dennis Ross, who was Middle East negotiator for the first President Bush and President Clinton, and now heads the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [says that] Arafat's 'walking-around money' financed a vast patronage system. 'I used to see that people came in, you know, with their requests,' Ross says. 'I need a phone. I need an operation. I need a job.' Arafat had money to dispense. All told, U.S. officials estimate Arafat's personal nest egg at between $1 billion and $3 billion...

"According to Israeli officials, [Suha Arafat] gets $100,000 a month from Arafat out of the Palestinian budget, and lives lavishly in Paris on this allowance. He also uses the money to bolster his own standing. Both Israeli and U.S. sources say those recent outpourings of support at Arafat's compound were 'rent-a-rallies,' and that Arafat has spent millions to support terrorists and purchase weapons.

"'Did he steal from his own people? He defines himself as being the embodiment of the Palestinian people', Ross answers. 'So what's good for him is good for them. Did they benefit? The answer is no. Did they lose? The answer is yes...'"

"The PLO's former treasurer told us he saw Saddam Hussein hand Arafat a $50 million check for supporting him during the first Gulf War. And there were other large gifts from the KGB and the Saudis. Ross says, Arafat used to say to me, 'Where's my money? You need to go to the Saudis and get my money.' It was never the Palestinians' money."

Arafat's Disease


It is not known exactly what disease Arafat has, as leukemia and cancer have been ruled out. Hospital spokesmen have given practically no information, leaving the field open for speculation. At least two prominent political figures imply that Arafat has AIDS - and Arab affairs expert Dr. Mordechai Keidar says that it is a popular theory in the Palestinian Authority as well.

Former White House speechwriter David Frum wrote recently in National Review Online that Arafat's illness is well known, but has been kept under wraps by the mainstream media. "We know he has a blood disease that is depressing his immune system," writes Frum. "We know that he has suddenly dropped considerable weight -- possibly as much as one-third of all his body weight. We know that he is suffering intermittent mental dysfunction. What does this sound like?" Two weeks ago, former US federal prosecutor John Loftus told ABC radio that Arafat is dying of AIDS, and that the CIA has known about this for a while.

Arutz-7 recently quoted former Romanian deputy foreign intelligence chief Ion Pacepa, the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc, regarding Arafat's murderous tendencies. Pacepa's memoirs also have much to say about Arafat's homosexuality, noting that the Romanian government bugged Arafat and recorded his debauchery with his bodyguards. Pacepa quotes Constantin Munteaunu, a general assigned to tutor Arafat about the West on behalf of the Romanian government, as saying, "I've never before seen so much cleverness, blood and filth all together in one man." After reading Munteaunu's report, Pacepa wrote, "I felt a compulsion to take a shower whenever I had been kissed by Arafat, or even just shaken his hand."

France Rejects Jewish Call to Probe Muslim Group

By Reuters

France has rejected a U.S.-based Jewish group's call for legal action against one of the country's largest Muslim organizations that it said was anti-Semitic and linked to the militant Islamist group Hamas.

Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin declined to follow up a call by the Simon Wiesenthal Center to probe links between the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) and pro-Palestinian groups it says collect money for Hamas and to replace the UOIF leadership. "We must avoid stigmatizing anyone or jumping to conclusions," he told Europe 1 radio. "It's clear the state is being tough, but it's not its role to jump to conclusions." The UOIF denied it was anti-Jewish.

The Wiesenthal Center's Paris office urged the government two weeks ago to launch a probe "leading to the dismantling and possible condemnation of this organization 's current leadership and its replacement by more moderate voices of French Islam." Its director Shimon Samuels said the UOIF was "a radical political organization " linked to the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who has issued fatwas (religious decrees) supporting suicide bombers. The Center also linked the UOIF to a pro-Hamas group banned in the United States.

Israeli Flying Car to Provide Revolutionary Rescue Tool


An aviation vehicle is currently being developed in Israel that can fly amid skyscrapers and park inside buildings. Its purpose is not to find that elusive parking place in New York City, but rather to become the most effective life-saving rescue feature since the ambulance. Called the X-Hawk, the vehicle is a "rotorless" Vertical-Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicle. Unlike a helicopter, the X-Hawk's propellers are not extended, but incorporated into the body of the aircraft, enabling it to pull up close to the windows of tall buildings without danger of collision.

Those unique characteristics make the X-Hawk perfect for rescue and law enforcement work: evacuating injured people from high-rise buildings, high-speed pursuit and other daring police activities. The X-Hawk is expected to be able to achieve a maximum speed of 125 mph and to remain airborne for up to 90 minutes (like small helicopters).

Dr. Raffi Yoeli is the driving force behind the X-Hawk. Yoeli served in the Israeli Air Force as an engineer and received his PhD in Artificial Intelligence from Haifa's Technion Institute of Technology. He began his civilian career at Israel Aircraft Industries where he was one of the heads of the aborted Lavi fighter plane project.

Yoeli established the Urban Aerodynamics Company in 2001 for the purpose of developing an urban aerial vehicle designed specifically for an urban environment. "In a regular helicopter, if you want to move left, you have to first tilt to the left. Then you have to correct the movement by tilting to the right in order to straighten out. We eliminate those movements - a very important point when you're working in constricted air space like an urban environment," explained Janina Frankel-Yoeli, Urban Aerodynamics Vice President of Marketing, and Raffi Yoeli's wife.

The X-Hawk is based on all proven, off-the-shelf certified technology, meaning the engines are already Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) certified, and have been up and running in other helicopters. "What we've done is integrate the existing technology together with a patented control system. It's a vane control system; there are rows of vanes on the top and bottom of the panel - each of the ducts looks and works like a Venetian blind. They can either turn in unison or in a few degrees in one direction or the other," she explained.

With its ability to go where no helicopter has gone before, the X-Hawk can be a windfall for emergency rescue workers - whether they're involved in rescue efforts from buildings, city streets, or even open highways. "The X-Hawk can dock on the side of a building; it can be of vital use in medical response teams. Until now, you can't use an air ambulance in the middle of a city. If there's an accident in downtown Manhattan, the only option is ground police, and you know what traffic there can be like," said Frankel-Yoeli.

"Even in a situation in which there is more open space, like on a large highway, you never have aerial responders being the first to arrive. There's always a ground crew first. They have to make sure the area is clear of wires, debris and other obstacles for landing. With the X-Hawk, the aerial medical response team can be first, saving precious minutes in which lives can be saved."

But where the X-Hawk has really dazzled the U.S. rescue professionals who have learned about the vehicle is in its potential to rescue people from buildings. "We have amazing potential to save people from buildings, an area that has received tremendous focus since 9/11. We had the fire chief from Washington D.C. visit us recently, and he said, 'that's great, but what's more important is to get my people in to the top floors of the building.' "He said it takes on average one minute per story for a firefighter or rescue professional to get up with equipment. If we're talking about 40 stories, that means the X-Hawk would be saving 40 minutes. That's a lot of lives that can be saved in 40 minutes," said Frankel-Yoeli.

Urban Aerodynamics has produced one concept demonstrator of the new aircraft - called the City Hawk. It has completed 10 hover tests, at a height of six to 10 feet, with a pilot, and has registered a U.S. patent for the control system. The company is now moving forward with the development of our X-Hawk prototype vehicles.

According to Hebrew paper Yediot Achronot, an American company that deals with aerial medical evacuations has asked to be included in the project. The X-Hawk recently showed its abilities at a conference held by the American Law Enforcement Association, including representatives from airborne police units. "We're in the design stages for the X-Hawk, and in the process of raising $10 million for a civil demonstrator. At the same time, we're approaching the U.S. government and U.S. companies to become partners with us in developing the X-Hawk for military purposes," said Frankel-Yoeli.

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