Monday, June 30, 2008

Is Syria behind the violence in north Lebanon?

Mufti Shaar: Foreigners behind the violence in north Lebanon

Monday, 30 June, 2008 @ 9:57 PM in Beirut

Shaar said he fears no reconciliation had taken place, adding that "foreign hands" are working to destabilize the country through the two Tripoli neighborhoods.
Heading a delegation of clergymen and politicians of Tripoli, Shaar met with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in the Grand Serail, where he asked the incumbent premier support the army in completing its peacekeeping task in Tripoli.
"We appealed to the premier to give importance to [the situation in] Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, where our brothers the Alawis are. The battle is not between Sunnis and Alawites," he added.
The mufti called for development projects in the regions affected since the onset of the civil war in 1975. "Unfortunately, we have not felt that the state allocated any productive resources to this region," he concluded.
Last week Ya Libnan reported based on Kuwaiti newspaper " Alseyassah " that Syrian officers and soldiers who were naturalized as Lebanese citizens in 1992 during the Syrian occupation had leading roles in the management of the military operations backing the "Democratic Arab Party" gunmen in Mount Mohsin, Tripoli, North Lebanon
The Alseyassah sources also revealed that over fifteen Syrian supervising officers of various ranks were directly Leading the battles.
The Alseyassah sources also pointed out that these Syrian officers are awaiting instructions to transfer to Akkar region, near the borders with Syria as another battle is planned for that area, which is a stronghold of the Future movement (al Mustaqbal) and other March 14 allies members. The nearby areas which are inhabited by Alawites ( same sect as that of the Syrian leader Bashar al Assad ) have been threatening the pro-government strongholds with imminent attacks . (Yalibnan)

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Iran produces 'Quick Reaction' tanks

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 22:10:02 -PressTV and FarsNews (in farsi)

Iran has launched a production line for superior 'Quick Reaction' tanks as part of the country's campaign for defense self-sufficiency.

Head of the self-sufficiency unit of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps ground forces, Colonel Nasser Arab-Beigi, said Iran has successfully started the production of a 'Quick Reaction' tank named 'Tosan'.

He added that a project to modernize engine and fire control systems for T-55 tanks is also underway.

The Iranian colonel referred to recent threatening remarks against Iran and said that the current situation calls for a significant enhancement of the country's defense capacity.

“Military equipment need to be upgraded in accordance with the latest developments in global technology,” said the IRGC colonel.

Col. Arab-Beigi said the self-sufficiency unit is also working on projects to enhance passive defense systems and secure the country's military sites.

He said the unit had been producing tactical vehicles since 1993, adding that it has also started work on anti-shield military equipment and electro-optical surveillance systems.

Arab-Beigi went on to caution that every enemy move in the Persian Gulf and on Iranian borderlines 'is under the full surveillance of IRGC forces'.
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Iran: Minister warns of increased spying activity by foreign groups

Tehran, 30 June (AKI) - Activity by foreign secret services in Iran has increased considerably in the last few weeks, according to a top Iranian intelligence official. The director of the Intelligence Ministry's counter-intelligence department launched the alert after speaking to journalists following the sentencing to death of an Iranian man convicted of spying for Israel. The unnamed official said that security checks in what he called 'sensitive centres' have been reinforced throughout the country. The top official also invited citizens to "keep their eyes open" and to point out "any suspicious movement" in and near what he called "sensitive centres."
The official accused the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel of having organised a network of spies and sabotage activities in certain Iranian regions. The regions include western Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan, inhabited mainly by Azerbaijani, Kurdish and Arab minorities.

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Apaches "strike a blow" at Taliban leadership

30 Jun 08 (Link)

British troops using Apache attack helicopters have killed a key Taliban leader and up to ten members of his cell during an operation in Helmand Province.

The intelligence-led, precision missile strike was carried out by members of 664 Army Air Corps on Thursday 26 June 2008. The attack took place 10 kilometres north west of Kajaki. The Apache engaged the vehicle in which the Taliban leader Sadiqullah was travelling with two Hellfire missiles. It is thought that Sadiqullah was the mastermind behind a spate of recent roadside bomb and suicide attacks against British, NATO and Afghan forces operating in the area.
British military spokesman in Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Robin Matthews, said:
"This was a deliberate and surgical strike against a man who facilitated a number of fatal attacks on British, NATO and Afghan forces and civilians. It was conducted with meticulous precision and strikes a blow at the heart of the Taliban's leadership in southern Afghanistan."

The number of 'asymmetric' attacks against Afghan and NATO security forces has increased in recent months, as the Taliban has been put on the back foot by NATO efforts and increasingly forced to rely on suicide and roadside bombs rather than conventional attacks.This latest Apache operation is part of NATO's ongoing campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan whose activities threaten to undermine the efforts of the Afghan Government to extend security and governance across the country.
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Attempt to kill President Ahmadinejad with high-intensity X-ray radiation in Rome

30/ 06/ 2008

TEHRAN, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - Enemies of Iran attempted to kill President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with high-intensity X-ray radiation during his recent trip to Italy, Iran's former ambassador in Rome said on Monday.

Ahmadinejad attended a global summit on food at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Rome headquarters in early June.

"On the eve of the [Iranian] president's visit to Rome, we checked the radiation levels in his temporary residence," Abolfazi Zohrevand told Iran's IRNA news agency.
"We found out that the radiation was higher than normal and its intensity was rapidly increasing," he said, adding that several devices were used to avoid potential error in readings, but they all showed the same results.

Earlier, Ahmadinejad himself mentioned another assassination attempt during his March visit to Baghdad and said only changes to his schedule had foiled the plot. However, the West and even some inner Iranian circles dismissed his allegations.
The Iranian president pledged last week to provide proof that the United States was behind an attempt on his life in Iraq.
Ahmadinejad, 51, who became president in 2005, is a strong critic of the West and has also called for Israel "to be wiped off the map," while Washington considers Iran to be the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.

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Iran summons Jordan's ambassador to Tehran

Iran slams Jordan support for terrorism

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 18:07:36

Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned Jordan's ambassador to Tehran over his country's support for terrorism in the Middle East.

The Foreign Ministry's Department for Middle East Affairs summoned Jordanian envoy Ahmad Jalal al-Meflah on Monday and expressed Tehran's disapproval over the attendance of Jordanian parliamentarians at a rally in Paris on Sunday. The rally, organized by the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), was directed at pressuring the European Union into removing the group from its list of terrorist groups.
Al-Meflah, for his part, said Jordanian King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein will not recognize the terrorist group. He added that Tehran's concerns will, however, be conveyed to Amman. (PressTV-Ir)

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U.S. Won't Let Iran Close Strait of Hormuz, Fifth Fleet Says

By Robin Stringer

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. won't allow Iran to shut the Strait of Hormuz, through which the bulk of Middle East oil shipments is transported, a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet said.
"They will not close it,'' Lieutenant Nate Christensen said in a telephone interview today from Bahrain, where the fleet is based.

"The Strait of Hormuz is vital international waters.''
The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said on June 28 that Iran may seize control of the Strait if the country were attacked by Israel, Agence France-Presse reported.

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Iran's Embassy in London protests to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

This beautiful map courtesy of the University of Sharjah (Link)

Iran protests British premier's improper name for Persian Gulf

MONDAY. JUNE. 30, 2008 Ettelaat

TEHRAN - Iran's Embassy in London protested to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown over the use of improper name for the Persian Gulf.

The Embassy forwarded a letter to Iran Coordination Group of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom protesting that in his latest speech on 'Creating a Low Carbon Economy' delivered on Thursday June 26, the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, prime minister of the UK used a strange and unprecedented term of 'Golf of Arabia' instead of legally and historically established name of Persian Gulf, IRNA reported.

The letter further reads that it is expected that the time-honored name of Persian Gulf which was used in ancient Admiralty charts and UN documents and emphasized by British and non-British archaeologists, historians, geographers, mariners, businessmen, politicians, explorers, scholars and researchers throughout ancient and contemporary history not to be compromised.

"The Iranian Embassy wishes to voice its deep dissatisfaction over this newly forged term which does not exist in any official or historic document be conveyed to Prime Minister, whilst reminding the international commitment of the United kingdom and urging for the use of the proper historic name of Persian Gulf."

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Iran visa on Internet for foreigners

(Israelis need not apply, obviously...)

TUESDAY, JULY. 1, 2008 (Ettelaat)

TEHRAN - The head of Immigration Police and Foreign Nationals said that visa will be issued on the Internet for foreign visitors.
Colonel Rezaian said the program has been arranged by Foreign Ministry and the office for promoting Iran tourism.
He also noted that those who are interested in more information may refer to the

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Tehran: "disastrous incident" leaves 19 people killed

Sa'adatabad district (click to enlarge)

2008-06-30 12:52:09

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian state television and radio say that 19 people have been killed when a building collapsed in the Iranian capital. The television report Monday quotes prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as saying that the building in the Sa'adatabad district in northern Tehran has for a month been on the verge of collapsing but that the occupants did not take municipality warnings to evacuate seriously.Mortazavi says authorities detained five people, including the building owner and contractors, and have said that «serious punishment» is in store for those responsible for the «disastrous» incident.

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Iran threat: Kuwait mulls emergency export plans 30, 2008

Kuwait is developing precautionary plans to ensure oil exports in case Iran closes the vital Gulf oil route, state news agency Kuna on Monday quoted an official as saying.
"There are precautionary plans to export Kuwaiti crude in cooperation with the Gulf Cooperative Council but those plans are not finalised yet," Kuna quoted Saad al-Shuwaib, head of state oil company Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) as saying. He gave no more details.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Tehran would impose controls of shipping in the vital Gulf oil route if Iran was attacked, Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari told an Iranian newspaper on Saturday.
"If any military tensions occurred oil prices will reach $200 (per barrel)," said KPC's Shuwaib.

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Huge explosion in Iran: many dead

click pic to enlarge...! (courtesy of WikiMapia)

(Al Manar TV-30 June 2008)

An explosion tore through a factory in a city just outside Tehran, leaving up to 15 people feared dead, the Fars news agency reported on Monday. The explosion at what was described as a "gas factory" in the area of Mohammad Shahr in Karaj city occurred on Sunday evening.
"It is estimated that 15 people are likely to have been killed by this explosion," the agency added, without giving a source for its report. The cause of the blast was still not known, the report said.

At the scene of the accident...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Syria put troops in Lebanon ahead of Israeli drill

Monday, June 30, 2008

A publishing house specialized in military matters reported that commercially available satellite imagery shows Syrian troops deployed on Lebanese territory along the border in early 2008, just ahead of Israel's largest ever military drill.

The report, published in Jane's Defense Weekly earlier this month, said that images obtained through DigitalGlobe show Syrian troops being deployed in the remote and rugged hills north of the Lebanese town of Rashaya al-Wadi. The report added that these maneuvers took place just before Israel was due to hold a five-day nationwide response drill in early April.

Satellite imagery obtained by Jane's shows Syrian troops on Lebanese soil in the remote and rugged hills north of the town of Rashaya al-Wadi, despite Damascus having ended its military occupation of Lebanon in April 2005.

According to the report, entitled "Middle ground: Lebanon plays buffer as Syria and Israel simmer," the Syrian bases are "aimed solely at creating a defensive line in the event of an Israeli military advance and are not conduits for weaponry" smuggled from Syria to Hizbullah.
Syria's reinforcement of troops ahead of the Israeli drill suggests a deep mistrust between the two states, despite recent peace overtures, according to Jane's.
"The deployment suggests mutual mistrust remains and hence peace negotiations will struggle to succeed," Jane's said about recent Turkish-brokered indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria.
"Both countries are negotiating from a position of domestic weakness and hence agreement is likely to be difficult," the publishing house said.
Jane's also said that Syria undertook a moderate increase in its equipment at its military bases between December 24, 2006 and March 12, 2008. The new equipment includes what appears to be towed and self-propelled artillery and a T-54/55 tank, it added.

Rashaya al-Wadi

"Human intelligence verification of the increase in activity is impossible," according to the report, which goes on to say that "in late 2005, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) sealed off the hills to the east of Kfar Qouk.
"An LAF checkpoint at the junction of the only road leading to Deir al-Ashayer bars all but local residents from reaching the village," the report said, adding that "The nearby village of Halwa is also sealed off by the army."
According to Jane's, the level of mistrust between Syria and Israel is reportedly rendering the Turkish-brokered peace talks much more difficult. That in turn has been reflected on the ground by Syrian deployment on Lebanese territory.
The "little-known presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon demonstrates that, despite the peace talks between the two sides confirmed in simultaneous announcements in Syria and Israel on 21 May 2008, mutual mistrust continues to characterize regional relationships.
"As a result ... negotiations are likely to be fraught while military preparedness will remain high," it said. (Daily Star.Lb)

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Iran says Bushehr Nuclear Plant to go online in October

29/ 06/ 2008

TEHRAN, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - The Bushehr nuclear power plant being built in Iran will be launched in October, a high-ranking Iranian nuclear official said on Sunday.
Russia is building the $1-billion facility, Iran's first nuclear power plant, in the south of the country in accordance with a 1995 contract, and under UN supervision as Iran is under international scrutiny over its compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
"The work for the physical launch of the Bushehr NPP will begin at the end of Mehr [a month under the Iranian calendar that lasts from September 22 to October 21]," Ahmad Fayazbakhsh, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said.
The Bushehr project was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006, but the date has been postponed several times.
The project was originally started by Germany's Siemens in 1975, but work stopped following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Russia delivered its final and eighth fuel shipment to Bushehr on January 28, supplying a total of 82 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to the light-water nuclear power plant.

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Iran 'digging 320k graves for invaders'

Sun, 29 Jun 2008 19:57:34

A senior Iranian commander says the country is digging some '320,000 graves' in its bordering provinces for future slain invaders.

Brigadier General Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, the Head of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense, said Sunday that the decision had been approved by Iran's Armed Forces Headquarters.

"We do not wish the families of enemy soldiers to experience what Americans had to go through in the aftermath of the Vietnam War," said Brig. Gen. Baqerzadeh, who is also the head of the search committee for missing soldiers.

The commander said the preemptive measures would decrease the time slain soldiers would be 'missing in action'.

"The burial of slain soldiers will be carried out decently and in little time," he continued.

Baqerzadeh added that the decision is in line with the Islamic Republic's commitment to comply with the Geneva Convention and the additional protocol regarding wartime cooperation between Iran and the Red Cross. (PressTV-Ir)

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Israel has never been so helpless as it is now: Iran's Defense Minister

Tehran, June 29, IRNA

Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said here Sunday that Israel has never been so helpless as it is now and its current threats against Iran is a psychological war.
Making the remark at the end of a cabinet meeting in response to questions of reporters on Israeli threats against Iran, he said that the helplessness of the Zionist regime has forced it to embark on diverting the public opinion.
The Zionists attempt to get rid of its internal crisis and cover up its crimes and massacre of innocent Palestinian civilians by resorting to such a psychological war and media campaign against Iran, he noted.
Iran has always been prepared to confront any possible attack thanks to its armed forces and vigilant nation.
Asked about an American missile base in Iraq, he said that the presence of US forces in Iraq is a threat to its own security.
Responding to another question on a plot to kidnap President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to Iraq, he said, "I confirm that there was such a threat (against the president) and but if necessary, Mr. president himself will speak about it in details."

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Rabbi wants to help town restore its Jewish past

"I made this print from a glass plate found by my father-in-law. In his opinion this is a family from either Szczekociny or Jedrzejw. I also think that they could be from Lelw." Henryk Sowihski, Lodi (Link)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

When Rabbi Menachem Bornstein visited his birthplace in Poland four years ago, the Holocaust survivor felt "sick and upset" at what he saw.
A shopping center was inside the synagogue where he once worshipped. Rest rooms sat in the Jewish cemetery where his grandparents were buried. Headstones had been stolen from the cemetery and used as sidewalk paving. The remains of thousands of Jews had been disturbed.
The Harrisburg man looked around his beloved village of Szczekociny and vowed to restore its Jewish past.
On Sunday, he will keep part of his vow when he visits that village, lights candles, lays stones and unveils a plaque. He will help break ground for a Holocaust monument.
A festival will feature "The Spirit of the Survivor," a short film on his life made by Sean Foer, a Mechanicsburg Area High School sophomore.

Bornstein said that restoring his village requires determination, diplomacy and money.
"I felt sick and upset when I saw Szczekociny after all those years," Bornstein said.
After seeing the desecration in 2004, Bornstein and his family gathered up fragments of gravestones, visited the mayor and told him that the city was morally obligated to protect them because the cemetery and synagogue are holy places.
The mayor replied that he couldn't help because the property had been sold. The Bornstein family wrote to the president of Poland and the World Jewish Congress. Finally, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said that Szczekociny "belongs to the Jewish community," Bornstein said.

Bornstein, his family and friends worked with Jewish organizations and the Israeli and Polish governments to build a monument and museum to the memory of the Jews of Szczekociny.
Supporters in the village saw to fencing in the cemetery, resetting gravestones and restoring the names.
Meanwhile Foer, a member of Temple Beth Shalom, made a documentary about Bornstein's life. Foer became so interested in Szczekociny that he visited there last November and is helping raise funds for construction of the Holocaust monument.
"The monument will look like the Ten Commandments," he said. "Part of it will be made of bits of gravestones that citizens hid from the government."
Bornstein said that $10,000 has been raised for the $34,000 monument.
The rabbi called his life a series of miracles. The son of an Orthodox rabbi, he was a teenager when he was sent to Plaszow-Gulag I concentration camp at Krakow in 1939.
He survived 12-hour workdays building train stations near the Plaszow-Gulag I in Poland. He stood on the edge of a deep pit as a Nazi soldier used a machine gun to riddle prisoners with bullets.
"I don't know how, but none of the bullets touched me," Bornstein said. "I got out of the pit with blood of others on me. The commandant said that if I could survive this, I should have a day off, then go back to work. That's what I did."
Bornstein, whose left forearm is tattooed B-94, was liberated after six years of torture. His parents, two brothers, four sisters and other relatives all died in the Holocaust. He weighed 62 pounds and nearly died during rehabilitation. After he gained strength, he went to Italy, then to Israel, where he spent the next 22 years in the Israeli Army.
"I have an obligation to those who came before me and those who will come after me so we may never, ever forget," Bornstein said. (Source)

MARY KLAUS: 255-8113 or
To contribute to the Holocaust monument in Poland: Checks may be sent to The Ameri- can Friends of Kedumim (write Yad Levehava in memo), care of Rabbi Menachem Bornstein, 3125 Green St., Harrisburg, PA 17110.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Talk of War from IRGC Major General Jafari

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari on a US/Israeli attack on Iran:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran's defense capabilities today, in particular its missile power, enable it to repel any possible attack."

"Israel is located entirely within the reach of our missiles. Our missile power is such that the Zionist regime, despite all its capabilities, would not be able to confront us."

"It seems without the cooperation of the occupying regime of al-Quds, rhetoric cannot turn into action. Even though the US may believe it can unilaterally attack Iran, the US needs Israeli assistance."

"This fact would be a deterrent factor for our enemy given the numerous vulnerabilities of the Zionist regime."

"Naturally, any country coming under attack will use all of its capacity and opportunities to confront the enemy. Given the main route for energy to exit the region, one of Iran's steps will definitely be to exercise control on the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz."

"Should a confrontation erupt between us and the enemy, the scope will definitely reach the oil issue. ... Oil prices will dramatically increase. This is one of the factors deterring the enemy from taking military action."

Jafari's comments were made in an interview conducted by Jam-e Jam, an Iranian daily newspaper.


PressTV:'Israel within Iran's missile reach'
AP Report: Iran to hit Israel if attacked

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Israel: Air strike on Iran will succeed

(PressTV-Ir-June 28, 2008)

A former senior Israeli general claims the regime is capable of carrying out a 'successful' air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"We could do it today," said Isaac Ben-Israel, a former air force general, in an interview with Der Spiegel published Saturday. Ben-Israel added that the only factor stopping Tel Aviv from launching the strike was the prospect of stopping Iran's nuclear program through other means. Washington, Tel Aviv and their European allies accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program and demand the country abandon its uranium enrichment. Iran, however, insists its nuclear activities are aimed at providing fuel for its under-construction power plants.
Meanwhile, the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran concluded after some 240 inspections of the country's nuclear sites that there is no link between the use of nuclear material and the alleged studies of weaponization.
"Only once the critical point has been reached will we choose the final option," continued the former general, who is currently a member of the Israeli parliament from prime minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party. Ben-Israel, who reportedly helped plan the 1981 air raid on Iraq's 'nuclear reactor, said that hitting Iran's scattered nuclear facilities would be 'more difficult'. He also acknowledged that the Israeli air force had recently conducted a maneuver over the Mediterranean to simulate a raid on Iran. "It was not the first such exercise, and it won't be the last," Ben-Israel said.
A recent New York Times report quoted Pentagon officials as saying that Israel orchestrated a military maneuver in early June as a rehearsal for a potential strike on Iran's nuclear sites. Pundits believe the military charade to have been less a dry run for an attack on Iran than a message that Tehran must curb its nuclear plans. Iran rejected the report as 'psychological warfare' but warned that any attack on the country would trigger a 'devastating response'. IRGC commander Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari warned Saturday that Israel is within 'the range of Iran's missiles' and that the regime despite all its abilities would not be able to confront the Islamic Republic.

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Iran ready to strike at Israel’s nuclear heart

June 29, 2008
Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, defence sources said last week.

The movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 1,250 miles, followed a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israeli air force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Israel believes Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.

The sources said Iran was preparing to retaliate for any onslaught by firing missiles at Dimona, where Israel’s own nuclear weapons are believed to be made.

Major-General Mohammad Jafari, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, told a Tehran daily: “This country [Israel] is completely within the range of the Islamic Republic’s missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime – despite all its abilities – cannot confront it.”

An editorial in a government newspaper, Jomhouri Eslami, said: “Our response will hit right at their temple.”

The sabre-rattling coincided with a visit to Israel yesterday by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, for talks with his Israeli opposite number, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi. This intensified speculation that Israel was seeking US approval for a possible attack on Iran.

“Although the visit had been planned well in advance, we got the feeling he was coming to make sure we’ll obey the strict timetable agreed with the US,” said an Israeli defence source. He refused to elaborate.

President George Bush has approved the linking of Israel to a US infrared satellite detection system that could spot Shahab missile launches within seconds.

This should enable the Israeli air force to destroy such missiles in the booster stage. The system will also give the Israelis about 15 minutes to seek shelter before any warhead hits. (Times)

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Iran: US accountable for Sardasht chemical attack

Yet more drivel from Tehran

Tehran, June 27, IRNA

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Friday condemned the 1987 chemical bombardment of Sardasht, a city northwest of Iran, by former Iraqi Baathist regime and said perpetrators of the crime will eventually be brought to book.

"The brave Iranian nation will never leave victims of the chemical attack in Sardasht alone and will bring the culprits to book," read the Foreign Ministry statement, issued on the National Day of Campaign against the Biological and Chemical Weapons.

The statement held the then US rulers and other states supporting Saddam accountable for the crime and said, "Now the US and certain European states are running forward with an effort to change the position of the convict with the victim." It said Sardasht tragedy is in fact recurrence of similar incident in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, masterminded by the US warlords, who then served as main supporters of Saddam.

It called on the international community to abide by their moral and humanitarian duty and launch continued efforts to fully dismantle chemical weapons, try and punish the agents behind the chemical crime, and compensate the damage thus inflicted on the chemical victims.
Located in northwestern West Azarbaijan Province, the Kurdish town of Sardasht was struck by Iraqi chemical weapons on June 28, 1987, and many civilians were hence injured.

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Iranian illegal immigrants 'delivered in wheelie bins'

Friday 27th June 2008-
Maidstone, Kent, UK

Four suspected Iranian illegal immigrants were arrested after being smuggled into the country in a lorry transporting wheelie bins, police said today.The three men and a boy were caught after they ran from the vehicle as it delivered the bins at council offices in Maidstone, Kent. A witness told the Sun newspaper that up to 20 men had been hidden in the lorry. The witness said: "About 20 men burst out of the truck as it came to a stop."They didn't come out the back - they punched their way through the roof and started running off in all directions."They had been hiding inside the wheelie bins for the whole journey." A spokeswoman for Kent Police said: "Patrols from Kent Police attended College Road, Maidstone, after reports that men were seen getting out of the back of a French lorry."

Following a police search, four men were arrested and taken to Maidstone Police Station. A 20-year-old man from Iran, wanted by Liverpool police, was transferred to Liverpool City Magistrates court on June 20.

She added that two other men, aged 20 and 30, and a 16-year-old boy from Iran have been released into the custody of the Immigration Service. A fifth man was arrested in nearby Staplehurst, but she could not confirm that he had been in the lorry. Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: "The UK Border Agency works hand in hand with local police forces nationwide. Five Iranians were swiftly and successfully transferred to our specialist teams of officers within hours."
A spokesman for Maidstone Borough Council refused to comment but confirmed that a delivery of wheelie bins from France was made to its offices on the morning of Friday, June 20.

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Iran to sue EU

Iran to sue EU at intl. foras for issuing fresh sanctions against it


Iran will lodge complaints at competent international courts against a group European Union states which have issued sanctions against it.

"European Union sanctions against Iran lacks any judicial basis and the country will file complaints at the international bodies against the few states," Deputy Head of the Judiciary for Administrative and Financial Affairs Hojjatoleslam Abbassali Alizadeh told IRNA here on Friday.
Hojjatoleslam Alizadeh said judicial and legal follow up of the case against the European Union is on the Judiciary's agenda. He declined to provide further details and said, "The EU's decision is fully politically motivated and lacks necessary justification to be enforced."
He went on to say that Iran's judicial laws, which are adapted from European models, especially the French ones, will be revised and compiled based on genuine Islamic rulings. He said the new law will be sent to Majlis for approval, adding that the judicial and penal laws have been revised at the Judiciary and 100 new articles have been added to the criminal procedure. --IRNA

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Iranian Ayatollah: Islam's relations with Russia have 'bright future'

Мечеть Кул Шариф.Казань.Снимал с рук.

Voice of Russia-27.06.2008
The secretary-general of the World Forum for Rapprochement between Schools of Islamic Thought, Iranian Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri, feels cooperation between the world of Islam and Russia has a bright future.

Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri has told the Voice of Russia that Russian membership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference may enable Russia to bridge the gap between the world of Islam and the West.

It may turn Russia into a factor of global stability, he said. Ayatollah Taskhiri attended an international conference on Russia and the world of Islam which was held in Moscow last Monday and Tuesday.

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'US builds 4 bases on Iraq-Iran border'

click pic to enlarge

The US military has constructed four advanced bases 20 miles from Iraq's border with Iran, a senior Iraqi police officer has announced. The bases, equipped with missile launch pads, have been set up over the past four months on the Iraq-Iran border, Iraqi al-Noor newspaper quoted the official as saying.

He added that one of the bases has been located 30 km (20 miles) from the first border town with Iran and houses remote-controlled launching pads as well as radar systems similar to ones used in Kuwait during the first Persian Gulf war.

"The bases do not serve military intentions and its staff would not be military personnel." According to the official, the bases are only precautionary measures in case of a military strike against Israel by Iran. A team consisting of high-profile US marines, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) alongside Pentagon experts oversee the bases.

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Greece: We are not preparing for Iran war

Fri, 27 Jun 2008

Athens has denied a report suggesting that its joint military maneuver with Israel was in 'preparation' for an aerial strike on Iran.

"The exercise has no connection with Israeli 'preparations' for an attack on Iran, as has been inaccurately reported," said Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.

Remarks by the Greek official follow the recent publication of a report by The New York Times, which quoted Pentagon officials as saying that over 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged a maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece from May 28 to June 12.

According to the report, Israeli jets flew over 900 miles, roughly the distance from their airfields to a nuclear enrichment facility in the central Iranian city of Natanz, giving rise to speculation that Tel Aviv is making preparations for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Israeli planes flew at high altitudes not consistent with a military strike and the exercise had no provision for dealing with anti-aircraft fire, did not include electronic warfare or surveillance aircraft and did not involve live ammunition, the Greek official added.

Roussopoulos further explained that such exercises have previously been conducted by Israeli warplanes over Greece, Cyprus and Turkey and that the scope and the terrain of the maneuver did not indicate a link with Iran.

Israeli aircraft flew at such high altitudes 'which would not have been the case had the nature of the exercise been aggressive', he said.

The Greek defense ministry had earlier issued a statement, reassuring that its military maneuver with Israel was carried out within the framework of Greece-Israel military cooperation and was by no means aimed at preparing for hostile action. (PressTV-Ir)

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Syria: Women Want Female Muftis

Syrian women have largely welcomed the news that female muftis are to be trained up to fill a role that has generally been monopolised by men.

Several local and foreign Arabic-language news sites reported earlier this month that Grand Mufti Ahmed Badr Hasun, the top Muslim cleric in Syria, announced that female graduates of Islamic law colleges are being trained to become muftis who will counsel women on religious matters.

Hasun also made it clear that some female muftis would be appointed to the Iftaa Council, a body which he chairs and which oversees the issuing of fatwas, or religious edicts.

Muftis are Islamic scholars who are empowered to provide religious guidance on personal and political matters. Until now, women in Syria, as in many countries, have had to turn to male muftis even when their concerns are gender-specific or personal.

“Iftaa [the giving of counsel] is a difficult task and a huge responsibility that men are barely able to hardly shoulder,” said a 41-year-old devoutly Muslim woman from Damascus countryside.

“Iftaa for women’s matters is a good thing. It saves women being embarrassed about issues such as marital relations and other things that they are sensitive about, like menstruation.”

Hasun made the comments during a visit by American academics to Damascus, but it was not the first time he has discussed the programme for women muftis. According to a February 2006 report by the United Nations Development Programme, Hasun told representatives of this UN agency of plans to appoint two female members of the Iftaa Council, and said women had served as muftis in earlier times. The news was not widely reported in Syria or abroad.

Hasun repeated the case for female muftis when he met the US scholars, and reportedly said dozens of women were being trained.

A male teacher of Sharia or Islamic law at a Damascus high school, speaking on condition of anonymity, welcomed the decision.

“Women are permitted to be appointed muftis under Sharia,” he said. “In Islamic history there have been a large number of female muftis and jurists.”

He said that female muftis must fulfil the same requirements as men by demonstrating the right level of knowledge of Islam, having a reputation as a pious individual, and receiving official permission to issue fatwas.

This unusual step has raised some debate on the internet. While many Arab women have praised the decision, some religious conservatives oppose it.

The decision is not expected to be controversial in Syria, as it comes from the top of the official Muslim clerical establishment.

A 22-year-old female student of Islamic law at Damascus University said the decision “pushed forward the rights that Islam accords to women, and elevates them as a result”.

Civil society activists generally welcomed the announcement but said women should be placed on the same footing as male muftis.

“From our point of view, it’s essential that women participate in fiqh [interpretation of Islamic law] and fatwa,” said Bassam al-Qadhi, director of Syria’s Women Watch.

But he added that the decision, as reported, “implies discrimination”.

“Women will only be able to give religious guidance for women and on specific issues, while men will still be able to provide guidance for both men and women,” he said.

Rather than use muftis, some devout Muslim women prefer to rely on their own resources.

One 49-year-old gynaecologist from Hama, for instance, said she would not be going to a female mufti for religious guidance, just as she has not consulted male muftis.

“I believe in thinking and using reason instead of referring to others in my life and religion,” she said. “I can refer to books on fiqh when I face a problem.”

The doctor noted that fatwas could be controversial, and said, “This trend should be limited, rather than expanded by allowing more people to provide guidance. If anyone is interested in empowering women, there are thousands of neglected areas to consider, instead of giving them the right to issue fatwas.”

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Iran files official protest to China

Tehran- 2008/06/26

Iran's Embassy in Beijing, in an official note to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, protested at the use of the word "Gulf" instead of the Persian Gulf by Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping at an international energy meeting in Jeddah last week.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran expects officials of China, as a friend and committed country, to use the correct name of the Persian Gulf in their statements and speeches," the embassy said. It added, "Since the United Nations has officially recognized the name of the Persian Gulf, all members are obliged to use this name in their speeches and letters.

"China's official Xinhua news agency which covered Xi's statement at Jeddah conference also used the name of "Gulf" instead of the Persian Gulf. --IRNA

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Ahmadinejad's threat to reveal kidnapping plan

click pic to enlarge

26/06/2008 Kuwait City
Al Qabas reports that Ahmadinejad is threatening the Iraqi government that he will reveal the details of the failed attempt to kidnap him in Iraq, if the Iraqis keep denying such attempt.

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Scholars make finds in search of Nazi archive

BAD AROLSEN, Germany -
June 26, 2008

From prison brothels to slave labor camps, 15 scholars concluded a two-week probe Thursday of an untapped repository of millions of Nazi records, and hailed it as a rich vein of raw material that will deepen the study of the Holocaust.

It was the first concentrated academic sweep of the long-private archive administered by the International Tracing Service since it opened its doors last November to Holocaust survivors, victims relatives and historical researchers.

The opening of the files to scholars followed a series of stories on the archive by The Associated Press, which was the first news organization to be granted extensive access to the long-restricted files.

German historian Christel Trouve said the nameless millions of forced laborers began to take shape as individual people as she studied small labor camps _ which existed in astonishing numbers.

Among the striking revelations was the identification of the man who rescued an 8-year-old boy in Buchenwald, Israel Meir Lau, who later became Israel's chief rabbi.

Lau had said his rescuer was a person called Fyodor from Rostow. Kenneth Waltzer of Michigan State University found it was Fyodor Michajlitschenko, 18, arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, who gave the small boy ear warmers and treated him like a father in Block 8 until the camp's liberation.

"A lot of us found the collections here, approached in the appropriate way, really opened up new significant scholarly lines of inquiry," said Waltzer, who is director of his university's Jewish Studies department.

Jessica Anderson Hughes of Rutgers University discovered that prostitutes servicing other prisoners in concentration camp brothels often came from ordinary backgrounds _ exploding the myth that most had been prostitutes before their arrest.

Hughes said the lists in Bad Arolsen allowed her to attach names to the prisoner-prostitutes at Buchenwald, one of the largest concentration camps which had one of eight known brothels for prisoners.

With the names she could look up incarceration records _ and she found some women were married, some single, some were mothers. The records said many were arrested for petty theft or other minor crime.

"We always portrayed them as volunteers, but I wanted to know why they volunteered," she said. She believed the prostitutes faced "a choiceless choice."

The research project was organized jointly by the tracing service and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which brought scholars from six countries to begin assessing the significance of the archive, the largest collection of Nazi documents.

The 50 million pages stored in this central German spa town since the mid-1950s previously had been used by Red Cross staff to respond to inquiries about missing persons or the fate of family members, and later to document compensation claims.

With the population of survivors quickly shrinking, the 11 countries that govern the archive agreed in 2006 to widen access to the files. It took another 18 months for all 11 to ratify the required treaty amendments before the archive could open.

Reto Meister, the archive's director, said he still gets 1,000 inquires a month asking for personal information. Now, the archive is also getting dozens of academic inquiries or visitors every month, he said.

The gray metal shelves and cabinets contain 16 miles (25 kilometers) of transport lists, camp registries, medical records, forced labor files and death certificates of some 17.5 million people subjected to Nazi persecutions.

Taken together with written and oral testimonies and the transcripts of war crimes trials, the dry data at Bad Arolsen add texture to the known picture of the Holocaust, from the first concentration camps created within weeks of Hitler's rise to power in January 1933 to the defeat of Nazism in May 1945.

"It was much more than I expected," said Trouve.

"I've been working on concentration camps for 15 years. We know there was forced laborers in Germany _ millions of them," she said. "But then you go through these lists. You see the farmer employing so many people. You see the factory employing hundreds of people. Everything was blurred, but suddenly you have a clear image."

Jean-Marc Dreyfus, of Manchester University in Britain, said the archive "won't utterly change our view of the Holocaust, but it will be very precious for researchers to complement and pursue new research." (Source)


Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this article from Bad Arolsen

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Want to be a Millionaire? Move to Israel

The amazing 80’s group ABC once asked a question about financial planning. They asked, “Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire?” According to fresh data, the answer may just be to come live in Israel. There used to be a not so funny joke that went like this. ” How do you become a millionaire living in Israel? You come to Israel with $2 million!” Hah Hah! I told you it’s not such a funny joke.

According to the 12th annual World Wealth Report issued by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, ”the number of the country’s millionaires grew by 13.6 percent in 2007, more than double the global millionaires’ growth rate of 6%, to a total of 8,200.”

That’s a pretty impressive growth rate, and the fact that it’s double the global growth rate speaks volumes as to the Israeli economic revival that has taken place over the last 5-6 years. The opportunities to create wealth in Israel abound, whether in hi-tech, real estate or even in industry (Click here to see a great video on Investing in Israel) . And those opportunities are not lost on foreign investors. It would be an interesting to see how many foreigners have become millionaires or multi-millionaires by investing in Israel. With the amount of foreign investment that has been flowing into Israel, I suspect that that number must be pretty high as well.

If you are an investor and looking at new frontiers to invest, you need to take a serious look at investing in the holy land. If you are thinking about moving to Israel with an organization like Nefesh B’Nefesh, you should feel confident that there are plenty of economic opportunities, and that the old joke about coming with $2 million no longer applies.
by Aaron Katsman & Zack Miller (Israel Newsletter)

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Iran: Flogging an effective deterrent, says senior official

Tehran, 26 June (AKI) - Iran's highest judicial authority, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, says public flogging is an effective criminal deterrent, while imprisonment is a useless punishment.

In an interview broadcast on state TV on Wednesday night, the head of the country's Judicial Authority complained that "many Iranian judges, influenced by western propaganda and fearing they will be accused of failing to respect human rights, are not sentencing offenders to effective penalties like public flogging".

"Public flogging is one of most just sentences that can be inflicted on someone who has committed a crime," said Shahroudi.

"The publication of photos and news of public floggings is the best deterrent, while three or four months in prison has no effect," he said.

"We must reduce prison sentences and make use of public flogging more to punish offenders."

Last month, rights group Amnesty International urged Iranian courts to suspend flogging sentences.

"Flogging is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which amounts to torture," the organisation said.

Amnesty said it was outlawed under Article 7 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In its latest report, Amnesty International said sentences of flogging and amputation continued to be implemented in Iran, and torture and ill-treatment were widespread in prisons and detention centres.

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Syria: Damascus reviewing ties with Iran

Damascus, 26 June (AKI) - Syria may be 'reconsidering' its relationship with Iran, according to unnamed French government officials.

In a report published on Thursday in pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, French officials said Iran and Syria do not agree on a number of issues and that may result in a rift. According to French sources, Syria opposes the idea of a confessional Iraqi state under Iran's influence. French officials also claim another point of contention is Lebanon, where they say Syria does not want any further involvement in the fragile political situation or to strengthen the Shia militia and political organisation, Hezbollah. The French officials said Syria is more interested in strengthening and developing its ties with the European Union, western countries and negotiating with Israel. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is also ready to sign an agreement with the EU, which would become a tool for Syria to normalise its relations with the body and create political, trade, social, cultural and security links.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

St. Louis: Police report anti-Semitic protest at Jewish Film Festival

St. Louis Jewish Light-June 25, 2008

While 400 people attended the opening day of the St. Louis Jewish Film Festival at Plaza Frontenac on Sunday, a group of protesters stood on the sidewalks in front of the shopping mall holding anti-Semitic signs and pickets and a flag bearing a swastika, according to police and eyewitnesses.
"Around 15 members of the National Socialist Movement were holding signs with anti-Semitic slogans and chanting," said Frontenac Police Chief Thomas Berman.
Berman said Frontenac and Ladue police were on hand to watch the protesters and monitor the inside and outside of the mall during the Jewish Film Festival event. The protesters remained on public property, and no arrests were made, Berman said.
Zelda Sparks, cultural arts director of the Jewish Community Center, the sponsor of the film festival, said the film festival's opening went on without incident, and said many people attending the event were unaware of the demonstrators, who stood along Lindbergh, just south of Clayton Road.
Lois Horwitz said she saw the demonstrators as she left the film festival, driving toward Lindbergh from Plaza Frontenac's parking garage.
Horwitz said her first thought was that the demonstrators were from the MUNY, doing promotions for The Producers, a satire whose plot presents a parodic musical about Nazi Germany. When she realized the demonstration was not a parody, she said she was shocked.
"I went to Clayton High School. I never saw any anti-Semitism in my life," Horwitz said. "To actually be in Frontenac and Ladue and see what you see in news reels, is unnerving. It was really shocking."
Karen Aroesty, director of the Anti-Defamation League for Missouri and Southern Illinois said once she heard about the demonstration, she alerted the authorities and film festival officials.
Aroesty said Neo-Nazi groups are active in Missouri and occasionally hold demonstrations. In December 2006, a small group of picketers marched along Schuetz Road in front of the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building holding signs questioning the Holocaust.
Aroesty said the best course of action when confronted with anti-Semitic demonstrators is to "not engage them in any way." "It's best to ignore them. They're on the fringe, and they need to stay that way," said Aroesty.

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Iran: US to Face Tragedy in Case of Aggression

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) warned the United States on Wednesday it would face a "tragedy" if it attacked the Islamic Republic.

"We advise US officials to be careful not to face another tragedy," IRNA quoted Mohammad Hejazi, a senior commander of the IRGC, as saying. "Our last word is that if you want to move towards Iran make sure you bring walking sticks and artificial legs because if you come you will not have any legs to return on," he said.

Hejazi's comments followed US and Israeli threats of a military strike against Iran's nuclear sites. The standoff between the West and Tehran has sparked fears of a military confrontation that would disrupt oil supplies. Last week a report said Israel had practiced for a possible strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. A senior Iranian official on Tuesday denied market rumors of an Israeli attack on one of Iran's nuclear facilities, which are part of a peaceful drive to generate electricity.
The New York Times last week quoted US officials as saying Israel had carried out a large military exercise, apparently a rehearsal for a potential bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities. Many analysts say Iran's nuclear sites are too numerous, distant and fortified for Israel to take on alone. They say the United States could unleash vastly superior firepower if it attacked Iran but that Tehran could strike back against its forces in any part of the world and disrupt oil supplies vital to the world economy. (FARS)

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Ancient Israeli cave reveals early life in the Holy Land

By Karin Kloosterman
June 25, 2008

The Bible mentions all sorts of exotic animals that once roamed the Holy Land, among them lions and bears. These animals have long since disappeared from the region, but a discovery of an ancient cave in the Galilee region of Israel, might shed some light on their early history.

The cave may also be able to paint a picture about the people who once roamed such a historically significant region. Archeologists are calling it "a rare find" and "a sensational discovery," because the cave which is filled with stalagmites, also includes man-made artifacts, human skulls and animal remains.

It is considered the most important prehistoric find in Israel in over 50 years.

Stalagmite caves

A tractor driver building a sewage line in the Western Galilee found it, and recognizing the find's significance called the Israel Antiquities Authority. Dozens of stalagmite caves similar to it have been uncovered in the northern region of Israel in recent years, and about 20 are similar to the Avshalom Cave outside Beit Shemesh, which is now open to the public.

Archeologist Hamoudi Khalaily from the Antiquities Authority was onsite not long after the discovery, but didn't actually go inside the cave. Based on descriptions from colleagues, and without official permission to talk in depth about it, he says the cave looks nearly the same as the cave near Beit Shemesh, and has a big hole in it.

"The cave contains well-developed stalagmites," he tells ISRAEL21c.

Ancient human remains

"The cave is unique," he adds, "because there are human deposits there belonging to the Upper Paleolithic, dated to about 45,000 to 20,000 B.C.E."

Despite the relatively old age, he notes, the most ancient human origins found in Israel are from Ubeidiya, an Early Paleolithic site in the Jordan Valley. The remains date back to 1.8 million years ago. Although Israel and its surrounding region is sometimes referred to as the cradle of modern civilization, Khalaily said the first humans originated in Africa 2.4 million years ago, and only about 200,000 years later started migrating to modern-day Israel.

Archeologists are saying that the cave is no doubt the most impressive prehistoric find in Israel in decades, since it contains a number of flint tools and the bones of animals that are no longer present in the region. They estimate the finds date back to the Stone Age, but no conclusive tests have yet been made. In the coming years, archeologists expect to examine the remains of the cave to better understand the way of life, climate and the type of animals that lived in Israel in prehistoric times.

The cave measures 85 meters long, 40 wide and about 30 meters high. However Prof. Amos Frumkin, who founded the Cave Research Unit at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that it will only be possible for people to enter the cave sometime in the near future when access is set up. Yinon Shivtiel, a cave researcher from the Tsfat Academic College told local media: "We have not discovered another cave of such size in Israel," and he also noted that better care is needed to protect Israel's caves. Shivtiel said Israeli caves contain "primordial panoramas that are among the most beautiful in the world." (Israel21c)

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Hezbollah has revealed its colors

Beirut-(YaLibnan-June 25,2008)

The Mufti of Mount Lebanon Sheikh Mohammed Ali al-Jouzou said that Hezbollah is using the Resistance as a pretext to put the state and its institutions, including the Lebanese army, in its service.

"Hezbollah wants to impose its anarchic and aggressive policy on all Lebanese," Jouzou said.
"Who will protect the Lebanese people and the residents of Beirut from the weapons, the hatred and the arrogance of Hezbollah?" he asked.
"Who will save Lebanon from the Iranian-Shia project?"
He also rejected any apology from Hezbollah to the residents of Beirut, "because we only accept apologies from those who have self respect."
"Hezbollah has revealed its true colors. It pointed its arms against its own people, while it completely failed to protect South Lebanon and Beirut's southern suburbs from Israeli missiles, which destroyed them completely," Jouzou said.

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Iran bans sunbeds

(AFP) 25 June 2008

Iran bans sunbeds on health grounds

TEHERAN - Iran's health ministry has banned the use and import of sunbeds on health grounds and warned image-conscious Iranians against the hazards of seeking such tans, the state broadcaster reported on Wednesday.

"The health officials... warned against the hazards of using sunbeds and announced a ban on using this equipment," the website of state broadcasting reported.

It quoted a health ministry statement as saying that officials would carry out inspections of beauty salons, hotels and health clubs that offer solariums to seal the equipment and refer the owners to the judiciary.

Health officials were concerned about radiation levels in public and work places, it said.

"In coordination with the radiation protection department of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization and the commerce ministry, the health ministry has blocked the import of such equipment to the country," it said.

The ministry has also urged citizens to report to the authorities any businesses offering sunbeds.

Sunbeds have become popular in Iran in recent years with many fashion-conscious women -- unabashed by strict dress rules -- sporting tans acquired in a beauty parlour or the beach.

Teheran's strictly segregated open air swimming pools are also crowded by young women basking in the sun in summer.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"In the name of Allah the Merciful... how do I build electrical circuits?"

Terrorism: New jihadist message calls for bomb-making aid

Rome, 24 June (AKI) - By Hamza Boccolini - A new message posted on a prominent al-Qaeda linked website calls on Islamic militants to lend their bomb-making expertise to the jihadist cause.
The message, entitled 'Metal conductors and the mixing of volatile liquids' was posted in Italian to the Ekhlas website by 'Fatah Roma' (the Conquest of Rome). Ekhlas has recently created pages in English, French, Italian and Turkish. It is the first jihadist website to have an Italian section.

"In the name of Allah the Merciful, I write to all my Muslim brothers, those who have experience of have studied or worked as engineers, industrial chemists, those who can help me find on the Internet materials to build electrical circuits," the message states.

But 'Fatah Roma' is concerned to prevent any homemade device exploding and killing the bomb-maker as it is being built. "The most important thing is the choice of metal conductors, mixing the volatile liquids, and procedures to make bomb-making safe," the message said.
It has not been possible to authenticate the message. The increasing appearance of jihadist Internet messages in Italian, however raises fears that Italy could be an al-Qaeda target. As recently as last week, Ekhlas published a message containing death threats against Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Italian journalist and Christian convert, Magdi Allam. That message was posted by a new user of Ekhlas, with the nickname 'Muhaijir Allah Sadaa Ahlahu' (meaning emigrant of Allah who has said goodbye to his people). 'Muhaijir Allah Sadaa Ahlahu' has a much better command of written Italian than 'Fatah Roma', suggesting he or she may be a second-generation immigrant.
'Fatah Roma' could be a first-generation immigrant. He or she is one of the most prolific contributors to Ekhlas. The website has not yet been disabled by the Italian authorities. Italian postal police in February closed down four Islamist blogs that were publishing messages from al-Qaeda's leadership and were hosted by the Italian server Splinder. The most prominent of these blogs was run from Senegal by radical Muslim cleric Abdul Qadir Fadlallah Mamour. The former imam of the northern Italian city of Carmagnola, Mamour was deported from Italy for alleged al-Qaeda links. Another of the blogs was run by Mamour's wife, Barbara Farina.

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