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Olmert: Israel Won't Permit Iran to Carry Out Threats Israel Faxx News Services

Israel will never allow Iran to acquire the power to wipe out the Jewish state, Ehud Olmert said. "When we hear a dictator say that he is prepared to wipe out the Jewish people, we don't take it lightly," the Israeli prime minister said in a video link address Tuesday to the Anti-Defamation League's leadership conference in Washington. "We are capable and I promise we'll do everything in our power to make sure that no one, including those who are saying it these days, will ever have the power to carry out these statements."

Israel Raises Iran Alert Level

By Monsters and

As Middle East tensions rose this week Israel boosted the alert levels of its Arrow-2 ballistic missile defense system out of concern about a possible surprise Iranian attack.

The Jerusalem Post reported that because of fears of an Iranian missile attack, Israel Defense Forces have raised the level of vigilance of their Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile defense system, built by Israel Aircraft industries and Boeing. The IDF have also reinforced personnel at the command center in the Palmahim Air Force base north of Ashdod, the newspaper said.

The heightened alert appears to be a response to growing tensions between the United States and Israel, and Iran. Israeli leaders appear concerned that Iran might retaliate against U.S. or Israeli air strikes to destroy or degrade its nuclear program by targeting Israel's main population centers.

Maj. Elyakim, commander of the Arrow missile battery at Palmahim, told the Post that the missile crews were always on high alert, but they were recently instructed to "raise their level of awareness" because of general developments on the Iranian front. The increased vigilance level, he said, was not due to specific intelligence but rather to the generally tense situation in the region.

Israel successfully test-fired the Arrow to intercept and destroy a ballistic missile configured to perform like an Iranian intermediate-range Shehab-3 in a December 2005 test. "The [Arrow missile] unit works around the clock and is always on call," Elyakim told the Post. "But in wake of recent events, we have raised our level of awareness ... we have taken into consideration what is happening around us."

The Post cited sources as saying that the Arrow missiles at Palmahim had recently been upgraded.

Most U.S. analysts believe Iran has not yet developed its own nuclear weapons, but no one knows for sure. There have also been unconfirmed reports over the past few years that Iran may have succeeded in buying nuclear warheads from old Soviet weapons stocks following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko last year confirmed that under his predecessor Leonid Kuchma, Ukrainian manufacturers secretly sold Iran a dozen cruise missiles. Israeli sources cited by the Jerusalem Post said the missiles were sold in 2002 and could carry a nuclear warhead 1,800 miles -- from Iranian territory to Tel Aviv, where 4 million of Israel's 6 million population is concentrated.

The Post also noted that while the Arrow remains Israel's first line of defense against Iranian nuclear-capable missiles, the Jewish state also fields batteries of U.S.-manufactured Patriot PAC-3s as its backup interception system against incoming missiles.

Israel is known to have two operational Arrow batteries -- one stationed at Palmahim to protect Tel Aviv and the center of the country and the other at Ein Shemer near Hadera, the Jerusalem Post said.

Two Suicide Attacks Target Northern Sinai

By VOA News &

Two suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula and there were reports of a third attack in the country's Nile Delta. Wednesday's attacks in Sinai targeted members of the Multinational Force and Observers as well as an Egyptian police patrol.

Two bombs were detonated outside an air base of the Multinational Force stationed near Rafiach and the Gaza-Egypt border. The blast lightly wounded Multinational Force soldiers from New Zealand and Norway, as well as two Egyptian policemen. Shortly after the blast, the PA police force reported apprehending three terrorists near the Karni Crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The bombing comes less than 48 hours after the Monday night triple attack that killed at least 30 people and injured 85 in the Dahab resort area. According to foreign press reports, twenty-one of those killed were Egyptians and three were foreigners. Three Israelis were injured.

The Multinational Force in the Sinai was established as part of Israel's withdrawal from the peninsula in 1981. It is funded by the US and staffed by soldiers from countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Norway and others.

Egyptian authorities said they have identified two of the three Dahab suicide bombers as Bedouins from the northern Sinai. Cairo originally reported that the three blasts were caused by time bombs and not suicide bombers. Thirty suspects have been arrested and Egyptian media are reporting that area residents were behind the bombings. Foreign security experts said that the killers are probably connected to Al Qaeda. Three of those arrested arrived the day before the attack and tried to leave immediately after the bombing in a car with counterfeit license plates.

Spokesmen for the Observers, who monitor the border between Israel and Egypt, said there were no casualties among the multinational troops. Details of the third attack, in the Nile Delta, are sketchy, and there are no reports of casualties. The multinational peacekeepers have been based in northern Sinai since the 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Israel Rejects Abbas' Proposal for Peace Conference

By VOA News

The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has called for an international peace conference that would include direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. However, Israel has rejected the idea. An Israeli official said Wednesday that Israel accepts the "road map," an international plan for resuming peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a speech Wednesday at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, Abbas said international sponsors of a new Mideast conference should act as both brokers and arbitrators, in order to move the peace process forward. He said he would lead the Palestinian delegation to talks.

Meanwhile, in the Palestinian territories, security forces in Gaza foiled an attack by militants who tried to ram a car full of explosives into a border crossing with Israel. And in the West Bank, Israel killed a Palestinian terrorist during a raid on a village near Jenin.

In Israel, a small political party representing pensioners has agreed to join Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party in a coalition government. Kadima needs other political parties to join before it can claim a parliamentary majority. The Pensioners are the first to announce an agreement with Kadima.

In Norway, Abbas did not specify whether he thinks the Mideast peace "quartet" - made up of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - or another group should sponsor a peace conference. He urged the international community to move rapidly on a negotiated settlement before Israel takes unilateral action to annex large Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Israel refuses to negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Israeli officials have called Abbas and his Fatah party irrelevant.

Israel Won't Try PFLP Leader for Zeevi Murder

By Ha'aretz

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided Wednesday not to try the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Ahmed Sa'adat for involvement in the assassination of late tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in a Jerusalem hotel in 2001.

After a series of consultations with State Prosecutor Eran Shendar and Shin Bet officials, Mazuz decided there was insufficient evidence to try Sa'adat for Zeevi's murder, opting instead to charge him with a number of security-related offenses.

Four other PFLP members, however, will face charges in connection with the Zeevi killing. They include PFLP military leader Abu Aa'hed Ulma, who is alleged to have ordered the assassination; Majdi Rimawai, suspected of recruiting people for the mission; Hamdi Kura'an, the alleged gunman; and Basal al-Asmar, who is believed to have accompanied him.

Ze'evi was gunned down in October 2001 in response to Israel's targeted killing of Sa'adat's predecessor as PFLP secretary-general, Abu-Ali Mustafa, earlier that year.

Mazuz also announced on Wednesday that a former finance official with the Palestinian Authority, Fuad Shubaki, will be tried in a military court for his alleged involvement in the Karin A gun-smuggling affair. The terrorists were seized by Israel Defense Forces soldiers during a March 14 raid on a Jericho prison. Legal officials ruled that IDF military tribunals in the territories hold equal jurisdiction to Israeli civilian courts in trying the four suspects.

Then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein and State Prosecutor Edna Arbel moved to try two other PFLP members implicated in the Ze'evi killing in a Jerusalem district court.

Mazuz's decision to try the additional four operatives is a continuation of the Rubenstein-Arbel ruling, which signifies the importance of trying the killers of an Israeli government minister in a civilian court in the eyes of the public.

Sa'adat and Shubaki were not tried by PA courts, thus holding a trial in Israel did not present a problem. While the four alleged operatives were placed on trial by the PA, Mazuz and Shendar agreed that a retrial was permissible due to the fact that the legal proceedings in the PA courts lasted a few minutes.

The PA charged the four with harming Palestinian security and meted out their sentence on the spot.

FBI Seeks Pro-Israel Reporters' Names

The FBI wants to know the identities of pro-Israel reporters who once worked for late Washington journalist Jack Anderson, a report said Tuesday. Mark Feldstein of George Washington University, who is writing a book on Anderson's Nixon-era exposes, said FBI agents sought the information in March in the prosecution of two ex-lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Steven Rosen and Keith Weismann were indicted in August on charges of receiving and transmitting national defense information. Feldstein told The Washington Post he was surprised the FBI agents mentioned the case when they asked about reporters who worked for Anderson who were pro-Israel or close to the AIPAC. Feldstein 'tried to wave (FBI agents) off' when they mentioned specific reporters` names, the Post said. The agents also wanted to know if Anderson's files contained classified documents relating to Israel and Iran as early as the 1980s. Feldstein said no classified documents have been found in nearly 200 boxes of Anderson's records. The FBI said it will continue efforts to see Anderson's files, a move Anderson's family has fought.

A Kosher Space Station


NASA is about to begin a series of consultations with rabbis as part of preparations for the stay of Jewish astronauts in its international space station. The space agency wants advice regarding the necessary arrangements and ways to uphold Torah commandments in space.

Among other things, there is a need to determine at every stage in the space flight the position of Jerusalem in relation to the space station, so that astronauts know which was to turn when praying.

Other issues include the keeping of kosher food and the keeping of Shabbat in space. The international space station is supposed to receive in the coming years guest experts from other countries, and an effort has been made to send Israeli scientists to the station.

The question of upholding commandments in space came up before first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon was sent to space. Ramon was not religious, but he took with him kosher food and made sure to keep the Shabbat.

NASA is in the middle of a process that would allow members of various religions to stay in space. Thus, for example, the space station could soon be hosting an astronaut from Malaysia, who will arrive in a Russian spaceship, and therefore preparations are being made to receive Muslim astronauts.

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