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Siberian Cranes Descend in Hula Valley


A unique beautiful park was recently opened in the Hula Valley, about 20 minutes south of Qiryat Shemona. Its newly reclaimed swamplands are now home to over 13,000 cranes from Siberia. During the three years it takes to get here from Siberia, the crane family units stay together. In the Hula Valley, one can identify separate family units. Israel is the preferred wintering location of the Grey Crane -- and his family and friends. These winged visitors have been growing in number over the last few years.

Cheney Expresses Concern That Israel May Attack Iran

By Reuters

Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday expressed concern that Israel may attack Iran, in order to eliminate any nuclear threat from Tehran. Cheney added that Iran was at the top of the American administration's list of world trouble spots. "If, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards."

Israel set a precedent for such action in 1981 when it sent warplanes to destroy Iraq's French-built Osiraq reactor, seen as the key to President Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions. "We don't want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it. And certainly in the case of the Iranian situation, I think everybody would be best suited by or best treated and dealt with if we could deal with it diplomatically," Cheney said.

Like Cheney, Bush has stressed the importance of diplomacy in dealing with Iran, but said this week, "I will never take any option off the table." "You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list," Cheney said in an interview aired on MSNBC on the day that George W. Bush was sworn in for a second four-year term as president.

Cheney, one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, said the administration would continue to try to use diplomacy to address what he said were serious concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons program and ties to terrorism. Cheney described Iran's nuclear program as "fairly robust." Iran denies its nuclear facilities are to be used to make weapons. Cheney, who was a leading advocate for the Iraq invasion, said one concern was that Israel might act against the Iranians, "without being asked."

Arrested: Two Israeli Arabs and a European


Two Arabs with Israeli citizenship and an Arab man originally from Lebanon who used his Danish citizenship to enter Israel were arrested by the General Security Service (GSS). The arrests were made on Jan. 6th together with Israel Police's International Crimes Unit. The three are suspected to have been working for the Hizbullah terror group. A gag order was in place until Thursday, preventing news of the arrests from being printed. The three were remanded in a Petach Tikva court Thursday. Representatives from the Danish embassy were present at the Petach Tikva courthouse but were not granted admission to the hearing.

Over the past few years, there have been several cases of terrorists gaining entry to Israel by using their European citizenship. Terrorist Stefan Smirak, who used his German citizenship and British terrorist Gerhard Shuman were both arrested and jailed in Israel until they were handed over to Lebanon in a prisoner swap with the Hizbullah terror group.

The two British terrorists who attacked the Mike's Place pub in Tel Aviv, Assif Mahmoud Hanif, 22, and his accomplice Omar Khan Sharif, 27, used their British citizenship to carry out the deadly attack, with help from Hamas, after making contact with the International Solidarity Movement.

10,000 Soldiers/Officers to Declare Refusal of Expulsion Orders


Petitions signed by at least 10,000 IDF soldiers and officers opposed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal plan are to be presented to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz next month. Noam Livnat, the brother of Education Minister Limor Livnat and spokesman for the Homat Magen [Defensive Shield] group, has released the text of the petitions it says thousands of standing army soldiers and officers, as well as reservists, have already signed.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz announced that he has launched a police investigation against Noam Livnat, as well as Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss for encouraging soldiers to sign such petitions. The Women in Green organization released a statement shortly after stating that they would continue to engage in such encouragement.

Livnat requested a meeting with Defense Minister Mofaz in three weeks to present him with the petitions. He expects to have gathered at least 10,000 signatures by then.

The texts of the two petitions which are being signed by soldiers and officers both online and in ad-hoc locations throughout Israel, read in part: "Declaration of Reserve Soldiers: We, the undersigned, are Jewish citizens in the State of Israel who serve as reserve soldiers in the IDF. We carry out our army service with pride, cognizant of our obligation and right to participate in the defense of the People of Israel in its Land and in war against the enemy. We identify with the remarks of rabbis and public figures who see the "disengagement plan" and the evacuations, the destruction and expulsion (as) a national disaster and violation of Jewish law that may not be participated in, and (we) hereby declare that we will not give our hands to implement the plan.

"I will not participate in civil war! I am a proud soldier in the IDF. My task is to defend the State of Israel and the People of Israel from the enemy. I may be asked to expel the residents of Gush Katif and northern Samaria, but I cannot. I cannot, because I am unable to beat my brothers and sisters, my countrymen. I cannot expel a mother of children from her home; I cannot drag an old woman from her bed; I cannot use force against a boy.

"I will not hurt the handicapped, orphans and widows, raze their homes and give their land to murderers. I will not hit Jews, will not uproot the planted, will not destroy property, will not aid in the destruction of hothouses, take factories apart, and destroy the harvest in the fields, will not remove my countrymen from their graves, will not destroy synagogues, will not agree to participate in civil war, even if I receive such an order.

"I recognize the obligation to obey army orders, but if I am asked by my commander to do these things I will see them as grossly illegal, and as a soldier (I) will be unable in accordance with the laws of the State and the orders of the General Staff, to carry them out and will be forced to refuse the order."

HIV/AIDS Treatment Breakthrough


An Israeli research team has developed a vaccine that could make a dramatic impact on the treatment of AIDS patients.

While AIDS treatments using the conventional cocktail of medications can kill the virus, the affected immune system continues to kill healthy cells. Therefore, researchers from the Hadassah University Medical Center and the Weizmann Institute of Science decided to focus on developing a vaccine that would arrest this autoimmune destructive process. What they came up with significantly strengthens the body's immune system against the effects of HIV infection. The results of the Israeli study were published in the latest issue of the prestigious Journal of Clinical Virology.

Dr. Rivka Abulafia-Lapid headed the research team. "Our aim was not to prevent infection by the virus but to strengthen the immune system and use our vaccination treatment as a complement to the antiviral medication," said Abulafia-Lapid. "Since the auto-immune process continues even after elimination of the virus, the vaccine that we have developed is directed to stop this destructive process. In other words, our vaccine complements the cocktail of medications, to stop the body from continuing to destroy itself."

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