The Day In Israel: Tuesday Jan 12th, 2010

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According to Ha’aretz, Egyptian foreign minister Aboul Gheit said that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is ready to discuss making “Arab Jerusalem” the capital of a palestinian state, while the PA may abandon its demand for a freeze on construction in East Jerusalem if Israel eases the “blockade” on Gaza and a halt to targeted killings of terrorists in the West Bank.

Aboul Gheit reportedly said Israel’s willingness to give the Palestinians “100 percent of the West Bank” and the readiness to discuss Arab Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine indicate “openness, goodwill and a change compared to the past.”

Sounds like the Egyptians are happy. It’s a shame it is our lives at stake if this is actually true.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)



10:50PM: According to Iran’s Press TV, a group called the Iran Royal Association – “an obscure monarchist group that seeks to reestablish the Pahlavi reign in Iran – announced in a statement that its “Tondar Commandos” were behind the assassination of Massoud Mohammadi.

10:45PM: Head Hamashole Ismail Haniyeh has called on other Gaza-based palestinian terror groups to stop firing rockets into Israel. Presumably to allow Hamas time to regroup until they decide they are again ready for the next round of fighting.

7:52PM: Photo of the day: Has to be this beauty of our Huge Zionist Spider of DeathTM (See 5:30PM update)

7:46PM: Israel’s relations with Turkey are rapidly heading south.

Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, told MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta’al) on Tuesday he is scheduled to return to Turkey for consultations regarding the most recent diplomatic incident, and that he may not return.

El-Sana spoke to the ambassador on the phone following the latter’s meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who summoned Celikkol to be reprimanded and was seen by many to have humiliated him in the process.

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In a letter addressed to Israel’s ambassador in Turkey, Gabby Levy, the Foreign Ministry in Ankara said it expects and Israeli “explanation and apology.”

“We hope that the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which has assumed an undiplomatic attitude in its statements, will comply with diplomatic courtesy rules,” a statement from Ankara said.

Earlier Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s statement regarding remarks made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.

The communiqué issued in Ankara said that Jerusalem’s statement was issued for internal political purposes and crossed far over the boundaries. Turkey’s official news agency Anatolia emphasized that Erdogan only criticized Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip and stressed the historic ties between the Turks and Jews.

Yeah, right. And the anti-Semitic television shows they are allowing to be shown in Turkey are mere criticism of Israel’s action?

Stuff Turkey.

6:15PM: Sorry, the story on the largest spider in the Middle East (see 5:30PM update) has inspired me to post this (bad language warning)

6:08PM: Hamas has admitted that an explosion that killed one of their terrorists and wounded three others was a case of premature explodation, and not death by Zionist as initial reports indicated.

6:00PM: The plot thickens.

A nuclear physics professor who publicly backed Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the disputed June presidential election was killed Tuesday when a remote-controlled bomb rigged to a motorcycle blew up outside his home.

State media identified the victim as Masoud Ali Mohammadi, 50, a professor at Tehran University, which has been at the center of recent protests by student opposition supporters. Before the election, pro-reform Web sites published Ali Mohammadi’s name among a list of 240 Tehran University teachers who supported Mousavi.

The government blamed the bombing on an armed Iranian opposition group that it said operated under the direction of Israel and the US. Iran often accuses both countries of meddling in its affairs – both when it comes to postelection unrest and its nuclear program. Israel’s foreign ministry had no comment.

Reflecting the internal tension that grew out of election, hard-line government supporters called at recent street rallies for the execution of opposition leaders.

5:30PM: Introducing our latest weapon: Huge Zionist Spider of Death.TM

The good news is that a new species of spiders – the largest of its kind in the Middle East – has been discovered by biologists at the University of Haifa.

The bad news is that the spider – grayish with black bands over its “knees” and the tips of its legs – lives in a sandy environment that is disappearing, thus it could be facing extinction.

Dr. Uri Shines, who headed the research team, said on Monday that unfortunately, “there may be other unknown species that will be wiped out before we can discover them.”

The latest type of spider, of the Cerbalus family, was found in the Samar sand dune in the southern Arava. It is the last dune left in the region, said Shines. In the past, the sand dunes covered 7 square kilometers, but as the area has turned into agriculture land and the sand has been collected for construction, fewer than 3 square kilometers are left.

Shines and his team named the spider, whose eight legs can spread up to 14 centimeters apart, the Cerbalus aravensis.

Even though too few of the species have been found to learn much about its biological behavior or the number of Cerbalus aravensis spiders in Israel, the researchers have already learned that it is nocturnal, especially during the warmer months of the year. It has also been found to dig a home in the ground that it covers with a well-disguised “door,” which can be raised like the top of a foot-pedalled garbage can.

The University of Haifa team called for protecting the remaining sand dunes in the Arava, as the area is unique.

1:20PM: Here is Press TV on the nuclear physicist who came off second best after an encounter with a bomb.

The interview subject puts forward the view that Mohammadi was killed by what he calls a “terrorist organization” such as the MEK, backed by the US and Israel, rather than it being a direct Mossad hit.

12:00PM: An Iranian nuclear physicist has been killed by a bomb, with Iran quick to blame the US and Israel a.k.a Big Satan and Little Satan.

A professor of nuclear physics at Tehran University was killed Tuesday by a bomb-rigged motorcycle parked outside his home in Iran’s capital, state media reported. Iranian state broadcaster IRIB blamed Israel and the US for the bombing.

Massoud Mohammadi had just left his house on his way to work when the explosion went off, state-run Press TV said.

The blast shattered the windows of his home in northern Tehran’s Qeytariyeh neighborhood and left the pavement outside smeared with blood. The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as confirming the killing.

Neither report said whether Mohammadi was connected to Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.

The Press TV report described Mohammadi was “a staunch supporter” of the 1979 revolution that toppled the shah and brought Islamic clerics to power.

Meanwhile, Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB said the bomb was planted by “Zionist and American agents”, without giving a source for the information.

“The assassination of Mr Massoud Mohammadi, a nuclear scientist and a committed and revolutionary Tehran University professor, was detonated by a remote control,” IRIB said on its website.

“As a result of the bomb planted by Zionist and American agents two cars and a motorcycle were severely damaged and the windows in the surrounding residential units were shattered,” it said. Iran usually refers to Israel as the “Zionist regime.”

Meanwhile, according to Press TV, there is another reason for suspecting Israel – besides the fact they blame everything on us.

Press TV correspondent Amir Mehdi Kazemi, reporting from the scene of the assassination, quoted security officials as saying that the equipment and system of the bomb used in the attack had been related to a number of foreign intelligence agencies, particularly Israel’s Mossad.

What is clear to me is if it was the Mossad, then Mohammadi was connected to the Iranian nuclear program.

And they deserve our congratulations.

9:50AM: Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has been criticized after breaking from some diplomatic norms in the way he addressed the Turkish Ambassador with Israel’s concerns over the latest anti-Semitic television show being shown in Turkey.

In the face of harsh criticism over his conduct Monday evening at a meeting with Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon refused to apologize, saying Tuesday morning that he “didn’t want to humiliate him, but merely to convey a message”

Ayalon had summoned the envoy to the Knesset to express outrage over a new Turkish television show that depicts Mossad agents as baby-snatchers, and in a break from the diplomatic norm, invited the press for a photo-op, during which he was seen telling the cameramen to film him and his aide sitting on tall chairs, and the Turkish envoy on a lower chair, with the Israeli flag in the middle.

The ambassador was also filmed waiting in a corridor for the meeting to begin, and when it did, he was offered nothing to drink or eat.

Ayalon called Celikkol for the meeting before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had issued yet more scathing criticism of Israel, and set the meeting at the Knesset, and not in the Foreign Ministry as is generally the case in these types of situations.

Army Radio quoted officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning as calling Ayalon’s conduct is “harmful to the strategic interests” with Ankara.

Former Israeli ambassador to Turkey Alon Liel told the station that “a new sort of diplomacy” had been invented, and that Lieberman had “made up a new way of reprimanding.”

“This time, they made him sit on a low chair, next time maybe they’ll make him crawl, and who knows, maybe the time after that they’ll beat him up at the entrance,” he said.

Ayalon himself openly admitted that he and Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman had planned the details of the encounter, but told the radio station that such behavior was “standard diplomatic conduct,” and offered no apology.

“I won’t apologize. It’s the Turks who should – for what [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan said and for the television series,” Ayalon said. “We are merely setting boundaries.”

Celikkol, according to Turkish sources, did not even know beforehand the reason for the meeting. One official said that the whole episode was an “act of humiliation.”

After the meeting, Ayalon said he told Celikkol that the television show, “against the backdrop of the very, very anti-Israeli rhetoric by the most senior officials in Turkey, not only harm relations, but also endanger the Jewish community in Turkey, the Israeli diplomats there, to say nothing of the Israeli tourists who visit there.”

According to Ayalon’s office, he told Celikkol the show was “intolerable.”

Celikkol said he would pass on Israel’s protests to Ankara.

Meanwhile, Ayalon has addressed the incident on Twitter, introducing this article with the words (translated from Hebrew):

I do not think I went too far and I do not express remorse. Only if we stand on our honor, others will honor us

6:10AM: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday said that deployment of the Iron Dome missile defense system along the border with Gaza will prevent the repeat of conflicts with the palestinians caused in the past by Qassam rocket attacks.

Barak, together with his predecessor MK Amir Peretz, who made the original decision to develop Iron Dome, received a briefing from Defense Ministry and IDF officials on last week’s final testing of the system. During the test, the Iron Dome, which will be deployed along the Gaza border by June, succeeded in intercepting barrages of Kassams, Katyushas and mortar shells.

“The inability to intercept rockets forced the State of Israel in the past to enter into conflicts or large-scale operations that would not have been necessary if we had the ability to intercept the rockets,” Barak said, thanking Peretz for making the difficult decision more than three years ago to develop the system.

Barak stressed that it would take years before the new defense system was fully deployed along the Gaza and Lebanese borders – but that once in place, the system would significantly reduce the chances of hostilities.

“We cannot create the illusion that tomorrow morning there will be full protection for the Gaza periphery or the North, or elsewhere,” he said. “It will take years before we are fully equipped. But in the coming years, Iron Dome will become part of the IDF’s defense mechanisms for the citizens and civilians on the home front, as well as for military sites.”

Iron Dome would “save time… and deter in many cases a potential enemy from actually launching an attack,” Barak said.

Amir Peretz? Go figure!

Meanwhile, here are the first images of the recent successful Iron Dome Test.

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