Archive for January 20th, 2009
Straight from Fox News: “The United Nations agency that administers a school in Gaza where dozens of civilians were killed by Israeli mortar fire last week has admitted to employing terrorists to work at its Palestinian schools in the past, has no system in place to keep members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad off its payroll, and provides textbooks to children that contain hate speech and other incendiary information.
A growing chorus of critics has taken aim at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in recent years, although momentum on Capitol Hill has been slow. But last week’s incident, which Israel maintains was prompted by Hamas operatives firing mortars at Israelis from a location near the school, has prompted some lawmakers to scrutinize the U.N. agency.
Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., introduced a resolution in the fall calling for greater transparency and accountability at UNRWA. The bill called on the agency to make its textbooks available on the Internet for public inspection and to implement “terrorist name recognition software and other screening procedures that would help to ensure that UNRWA staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries are neither terrorists themselves, nor affiliated with known terrorist organizations.”
Rothman said he plans to re-introduce his UNRWA resolution in the coming weeks because, “as timely as this bill was before, it is even more timely now. It is urgent that Congress can be assured that U.S. taxpayer money is not being spent to support Hamas and its murderous activities.”
A spokesman for UNRWA adamantly said that the agency is now free of terrorist connections. “We’re composed of social workers and teachers,” the official explained. “We take every step possible to have only civilians inside UNRWA facilities.”
But the U.N. Personal History form for UNRWA employees does not ask whether someone is a member of, or affiliated with, a terrorist organization such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. And there is no formal screening to ensure that employees are not affiliated with terrorist entities.”
Straight from the Debka File: “US and Egyptian warships were scouring the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea Tuesday, Jan. 20 to waylay an Iranian freighter carrying scores of heavy rockets for delivery to Hamas. DEBKAfile‘s exclusive sources report they were acting on intelligence that a ship loaded with an estimated 60 tons of arms to replenish Hamas’ depleted war stocks had set out from the Iranian Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas on Jan. 17.
Our sources reveal that the arms-smuggling vessel started its voyage as the Iran-Hedayat and changed its name in mid sea to Famagustus registered to Panama. The captain was ordered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to unload its cargo at a smugglers cove on the southeastern coast of Sinai opposite the Gulf of Suez, to be picked up by armed Bedouin gangs and moved to El Arish in northern Sinai. From there the contraband rockets were to be slipped gradually into the Gaza Strip.
The cargo consists of 50 Fajr rockets whose range is 50-75 km, scores of heavy Grad rockets, new, improved launchers whose angle of fire can be precisely adjusted, tons of high-quality explosives, submachine guns, rifles and pistols and armor-piercing missiles and shells (of types used successfully by Hizballah against Israeli tanks in 2006).
The shipment, the largest Tehran has ever consigned to the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza, includes also a large number of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, equipment for assembling roadside bombs and advanced communications and night vision gear.
(The Palestinian Karin-A arms smuggling ship intercepted by Israel naval commandoes seven years ago carried 50 tons of arms for Fatah).
The Iranian ship aroused suspicions when Western spy satellites and surveillance stations spotted its change of registration after entering the Sea of Oman. Closer observation identified the cargo as a huge arms shipment.”
Straight from Gizmodo: “Seeking funding to support the work, the Boston, Massachusetts-based-AeroCopter’s MTR vehicle has a single turbine driving a ducted fan pusher propeller and the electromagnetically driven 8.2m (27ft)-diameter ring that encircles the fuselage. Lift is generated by the rotor blades of the ring, which has counter-rotating upper and lower halves. A driveshaft linking the ring to the turbine uses permanent magnets to turn the ring, which has many more magnets located at short intervals around its circumference. Once at 1,000ft (305m) altitude the ring is tilted through 87° and locked in place.
AeroCopter has designed a 1,320kg (2,900lb) two-seat personal air vehicle with a cruise speed of at least 220kt (405km/h) and a range of 555km (300nm). There is also an unmanned air vehicle version.”
Straight from Fox News: “The U.N. chief inspected the devastation wrought by Israel’s onslaught in Gaza on Tuesday, leading a moment of silence at the smoldering U.N. headquarters, as the territory’s militant Hamas rulers, triumphant at having survived, held victory rallies amid the ruins.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, appearing stern and saddened at a ceremony at the burned out U.N. headquarters in Gaza, demanded an Israeli investigation into strikes on United Nations facilities. Ban asked the crowd to honor victims of the offensive, who included nearly 40 Palestinians who had sought refuge at a U.N. school shelled by Israel.
“It has been especially troubling and heartbreaking for me as secretary-general that I couldn’t end this faster,” he said. He warned the truce is fragile, and called on Israel and Hamas to “exercise maximum restraint and nurture the cease-fire.”
Thousands of Hamas supporters thronged a square outside the remains of the parliament building in Gaza City, which was heavily damaged in an Israeli airstrike at the outset of the war. Two men hoisted a sign in carefully scripted Hebrew reading, “The resistance will be victorious, Israel has been defeated.”
Israel and Hamas both ceased fire on Sunday, after an offensive that claimed the lives of some 1,300 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, and 13 Israelis. The last of Israel’s ground troops were expected to pull out of Gaza on Tuesday if the quiet holds, defense officials said.”