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Abbas Fires 3 Top Palestinian Security Officials in Shakeup

By VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has fired three top security officials after militants broke the cease-fire he reached with Israel and fired mortars at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Abbas dismissed the men, including security chief Abdel Razek Majaidie, hours after Hamas militants fired the mortars. No one was wounded in the shelling, which Hamas said was a response to Israeli gunfire that killed a Palestinian man Wednesday in Gaza. Despite the violence, Israeli and Palestinian officials met late Thursday to discuss security issues.

Cease-fire Explodes with Dozens of Mortar Shells and Rockets


The cease-fire and "new hope for peace" declared at Sharm a-Sheikh on Tuesday exploded Thursday amidst 36 Arab-fired mortar shells and Kassam rockets at Gush Katif towns. No one was hurt in the attacks, though was one house in N'vei Dekalim suffered a direct hit, and electricity was out in most of Gush Katif - the bloc of Jewish communities in southern Gaza - for several hours. Israel submitted a formal complaint about the attacks to the U.S. and to Egypt, which hosted the Sharm a-Sheikh summit.

The most recent shells landed in Netzarim, close to 11 a.m. and three more in Morag around noon. Though Gush Katif has been pounded with well over 5,300 shells and rockets during the past four years, residents said they could not remember such a large bombardment as the one that began Thursday morning.

On the one hand, the organized bombardment appeared to be a direct result of the concessions that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made to the Palestinian Authority in recent days, and which continued even Thursday. reported that the north-south route that has long had an IDF checkpoint controlling its traffic is now open 24 hours a day to local Arab traffic, with no Israeli supervision. "This enables the terrorists to rearm and transport mortar shells from north to south with no disturbance," the site reported.

On the other hand, Kfar Darom spokesman Asher Mivtzari said the tremendous amount of mortar shells showed that there is guidance from higher political echelons. "We see that no shells have hit Sderot, while Gush Katif is pounded mercilessly. It is clear that Abu Mazen is allowing this, while at the same time receiving a signal from Sharon that it's OK to hit Gush Katif, as long as Sderot (Editor: Near Sharon's 'ranch') is left out of the equation."

"We call upon the Prime Minister and Defense Minister," said Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg, "to open their eyes and see with whom we're making this imaginary peace, and to whom they're making the gestures [of removing roadblocks, releasing prisoners, and the like]."

Knesset member Uri Ariel (National Union) said very simply, "Sharon has abandoned Gush Katif and its residents; the fact that there have been no wounded has nothing to do with him... The soldiers can no longer merely open fire on suspected infiltrators; they have to ask permission from their higher-ups, and it takes a while. All the Hamas leaders have now come out of their holes, and are walking around free, preparing for the next round of terror." MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) called upon the government to cease all goodwill gestures to the PA following the bombardment.

Hamas took credit for the bombardment of Gush Katif, stating it was in retaliation for Israel's shooting Wednesday night at a group of four Arabs. The four were attempting to infiltrate the community of Atzmonah, having reached to within 120 feet of the fence, and were shot while in an area well known as being banned to Arabs. Another terrorist was killed nearby when the bomb he was trying to place blew up in his hands.

Soap Said to be Made from Jews in Holocaust Found in Israel

By Ha'aretz

A box of soap which, according to the Romanian Jewish community, was made from the bodies of Jews killed in the Holocaust was found Thursday in a funeral home in Magdiel in central Israel, Army Radio reported. The box was buried under a tombstone that read "Soap of Holy People."

Sources at Yad Vashem expressed disappointment at the radio report, calling the story a "pure invention that was given a stage by the media." A Yad Vashem spokeswoman said there is no proof the Nazis made soap from human bodies during the Holocaust. The sources said similar claims have been made in the past regarding soap made from Jewish bodies, including soap found last year in the Nahariya cemetery. In that case the soap was determined not to have been made from human remains.

In 1990 samples from several soaps claimed to have been made from Jews were sent for DNA testing at Tel Aviv University. Likewise, those tests determined the soaps did not contain human fats.

The director of the Jewish burial society Hevra Kadisha, Moti Elbaum, informed Army Radio of the discovery. "I was very surprised and terrified. I didn't know that in Israel there is a grave for soap that was made from saints that were placed on the fire," said Elbaum. "It is shocking and horrifying. Each time were are shocked more and more by the things that were done to our nation."

The daughter and associates of the rabbi that performed the burial ceremony said he asked to be buried in a grave next to the soap grave. His associates also expressed anger at the reaction of Yad Vashem casting doubt on the authenticity of the soap. Holocaust survivors claim that the soap was engraved with writing that said it was made from fat from Jewish bodies.

Hitler's Nazi Retreat Becomes a Vacation Resort


Sixty years after the liberation of Aucshwitz, Berchtesgaden, Hitler's notorious hideaway headquarters in the Bavarian Alps, is now being promoted as a "cozy" vacation resort hotel and is scheduled to open next month. In a marketing blitz that could have come straight out of the script of "The Producers," Mel Brooks' long running bitter, Broadway satire on Hitler and the Nazis, the InterContinental Hotels' sales pitch for the alpine site proclaims: "Berchtesgaden: It's not a peak, it's a treat."

In the winter 2005 edition of the hotel chain's magazine "Hightstyle," the place where Hitler planned out and made many of the key decisions of World War II that resulted in the deaths of 70 million people, including six million Jews, has been repackaged as an idyllic get-away locale for "thigh slapping, local dancing" and "a particularly fine spot for yodeling."

"Unfortunately, Berchtesgaden holds a more sinister significance," said Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for international liaison for the Wiesenthal Center, the institute dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. "It was the seat of evil, where Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi leadership took most of the decisions that cost the world 70 million lives."

Samuels expressed revulsion over the hotel magazine's suggestion for prospective Berchtesgaden vacationers to 'descend into the bowels of the earth' in a tour of the nearby Salzbergwerk salt mines, explaining that the Nazi death camps were "a place in which millions, indeed, descended 'into the bowels of the earth' never to return." He added, "This dishonors the memory of all the victims of Nazism, offends the survivors and teaches tomorrow's murderers that scenic beauty can camouflage and efface their atrocities."

Israeli Couple Reveals the Secrets of Love Chemistry

By (Copyright 2004)

The walls are covered with paintings, bookshelves line the room, and set gracefully in a niche are two chairs and a small table adorned with a vase of flowers in the home of the professors Sperling. The couch is wonderfully comfortable, and the tea impeccably served, as these two scientists reveal the secrets of the chemistry of their marriage and of their new insights into how the DNA code is transformed into instructions for the protein construction through RNA "cutting and pasting" that is necessary for cells to survive.

Professor Ruth Sperling of the Genetics Department of the Hebrew University brings plates of cookies, lemon cake and a selection of teas, while Professor Yossi Sperling of the Organic Chemistry Department of the Weizmann Institute begins explaining the background of their study. "We have solved the mystery of the structure of the machine [or spliceosome] in the cell where cutting and pasting - splicing - of RNA that codes for proteins takes place," he told ISRAEL21c. His wife added," Since many diseases, including cancer, appear to be connected to mistakes that take place during the splicing process, causing defects in the cells, understanding the workings of the machinery involved may facilitate the correction or prevention of these diseases in the future."

After about 20 years of research that is by no means complete, the couple and their dedicated and talented graduate students, Maia Azubel of the Hebrew University and Dr. Sharon Wolf of the Chemical Research Support Department at the Weizmann Institute, have created a 3-D image of the spliceosome 'machine' where RNA splicing takes place, which is situated in the nucleus of a cell. "We chose the top down approach," said Yossi. "We went to the cell and tried to take out the machine or assembly in its natural state." "We are researching something that can only be seen with an electron microscope," added Ruth.

The scientists used images of split-second freezing of the spliceosome units at very low temperatures. The composite 3-D picture was built from thousands of images, each showing the sliceosome at a slightly different angle, so that now there is a "picture" of the machines that function in the nucleus of a cell. "And the machine has the length of 50 nanometers," said Yossi, noting that there are one billion nanometers in one meter.

After 43 years of marriage, the two professors are still very respectful and considerate of each other, each listening attentively when the other speaks, rounding out a thought or explanation only if necessary. They said that it takes patience and persistence and a never-ending curiosity to persevere in the scientific world, and laugh that the same can be said of their marriage.

The Sperlings, who spend about two days a week working in the same place, share an insatiable curiosity about how things work. They agreed that there is no competition between them and that they have never argued about their research. "We both have tremendous patience and staying power and, yes, we love each other," said Yossi. "It's everything together."

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