1966 sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage comes to life in Israel (& BBC’s “Hamas” employee enters Gaza)

June 27, 2007

* BBC employee who is said to also be a Hamas member, enters Gaza to negotiate for Alan Johnston
* Israeli scientists have actually created the imaginary technology depicted by the 1966 science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, in which a submarine is reduced to microscopic size, injected into the bloodstream and is able to travel through the body to provide medical treatment
* Al-Qaeda joins Jimmy Carter in publicly backing Hamas
* Iran to launch 24-hour English-language propaganda channel next Monday

 

CONTENTS

1. Israel lets one of BBC’s “Hamas” employees into Gaza to negotiate for Johnston
2. While others call for their boycott, Israeli scientists make breakthroughs
3. Al-Qaeda leader urges support for Hamas
4. Hamas “more moderate”?
5. Iran to launch a 24-hour English-language satellite news channel
6. “New mini-robot can travel through the bloodstream” (Ha’aretz, June 26, 2007)
7. “Scientists develop ‘Fantastic Voyage’-like robot sub” (Jer. Post, June 26, 2007)
8. “Al-Qaeda leader urges support for Hamas” (AP, June 25, 2007)
9. “Iran to launch 24-hour English-language channel” (Reuters, June 26. 2007)
10. “Israel lets Hamas member enter Gaza” (Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2007)



[Note by Tom Gross]

ISRAEL LETS ONE OF BBC’S “HAMAS” EMPLOYEES INTO GAZA TO NEGOTIATE FOR JOHNSTON

The Jerusalem Post reports today that the Israeli government has overruled the opposition of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency and granted a request by the BBC that a Palestinian employee of the BBC – who is said to also be a Hamas member – enter the Gaza Strip in efforts to negotiate the release of abducted BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

Simon Wilson, the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief, denied that any BBC staff are “members of Hamas,” although he failed to deny that the BBC employee in question is a close associate of senior Hamas officials.

The Shin Bet objected to the BBC request, saying that the BBC employee was indeed a member of Hamas, and perhaps even a terrorist operative.

Johnston was abducted by the Army of Islam terrorist group on March 12. Last night the group issued a statement saying “There is no discussion or bargaining in this issue – even if he will remain in captivity for 1,000 years or he is slaughtered like a sheep.”

For more on the suicide belt Johnston was forced to wear this week, see Abbas the moderate? Abbas as a leader? (June 25, 2007).

For years, there have been allegations that Palestinians employed as translators and fixers by the BBC in the Middle East have had close personal links to Palestinian terror groups.

WHILE OTHERS CALL FOR THEIR BOYCOTT, ISRAELI SCIENTISTS MAKE BREAKTHROUGHS

While many academics elsewhere are spending their time demonizing Israeli academics and trying to boycott them, researchers at universities in tiny Israel are continuing to make scientific breakthroughs second only to researchers working in the much larger U.S.

The latest are scientists at the Technion working with researchers from the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, who announced yesterday that they have developed a miniature, remote-controlled robot that can move within the bloodstream.

The new robot, which is one millimeter wide, consists of a hub from which tiny arms stretch out, allowing it to strongly grip the vessel walls. The operators can manipulate the robot to move in increments, and its special structure allows it to crawl within a variety of vessels with differing diameters.

The robot is likely to be used in the future in treatments for a wide range of medical problems, including cancer and malignant tumors. Israeli scientists have already produced another kind of robot which is used in many hospitals around the world for performing spinal surgery.

AL-QAEDA LEADER URGES SUPPORT FOR HAMAS

Osama bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, has followed former U.S. president Jimmy Carter in publicly announcing support for Hamas. (For more on Carter see here.)

Al-Zawahri delivered an Internet audio message calling on Muslims worldwide to send more weapons to Hamas.

The 25-minute tape, al-Zawahri’s seventh released this year, was posted on the same day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was hosting a summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Jordan’s King Abdullah II also attended.

HAMAS “MORE MODERATE”?

The BBC has now reported that al-Zawahri has called on Hamas “to unite with al-Qaeda.” But then the BBC news report added: “Hamas leaders, who espouse a more moderate brand of Islamist politics, have always shunned al-Qaeda advances.”

What does the BBC mean by “more moderate”? That Hamas is primarily interested in killing Jews whereas al-Qaeda is interested in killing Jews and Christians? By that standard, Hitler was also “more moderate” than al-Qaeda. Maybe the BBC ought to stop downplaying Hamas’s extremism.

IRAN TO LAUNCH 24-HOUR ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PROPAGANDA CHANNEL

Iran’s state broadcaster will launch a 24-hour English-language satellite news channel next week to rival dominant western services, a senior Iranian official said yesterday.

Teheran-based PRESS TV, staffed by both Iranians and foreigners, is scheduled to start broadcasting from Teheran next Monday, and will model its format on CNN and BBC World, Nader Rad, head of live programming, told Reuters. He said it would concentrate on news from “Palestine and Lebanon.” (i.e. where the Iranian-backed Islamic militias Hamas and Hizbullah operate from.)

Iran’s state broadcaster already runs the Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam and the Persian-language Jaam-e Jam.

Below, I attach articles on the stories above.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

A TINY ROBOT WITH TINY ARMS

New mini-robot can travel through the bloodstream
By Guy Griml
Ha’aretz
June 26, 2007

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/875000.html

Scientists at the Technion University, teamed with a researcher from the College of Judea and Samaria, have developed a miniature robot that can move within the bloodstream.

Researchers the world wide have been trying to develop miniature, remote-controlled robots for minimally invasive medical treatments within the body.

“For the first time a miniature robot has been planned and constructed, that has the unique ability to crawl within the human body’s veins and arteries,” said Dr. Nir Shvalb of the College of Judea and Samaria yesterday.

“The robot will be able to crawl against the bloodstream with a force typical of blood vessels within the body without any problem, which has not been possible before.”

Oded Salomon, researcher at the medical robotics lab in the Technion’s engineering faculty, added that the miniaturization achievement is unprecedented, as is the ability to control the robot’s activity for unlimited periods of time, for any medical procedure.

For comparison, the diameter of a similar robot which researchers at Kyoto University developed is one centimeter. The Israeli robot’s diameter is one millimeter.

The new robot consists of a hub from which tiny arms stretch out, allowing the robot to strongly grip the vessel walls. The operators can manipulate the robot to move in increments, and its special structure allows it to crawl within a variety of vessels with differing diameters.

Blood vessels differ from each other in diameter, making it extremely important for the robot to possess the ability to be able to adjust accordingly.

 

FROM SCIENCE FICTION TO REALITY

Scientists develop ‘Fantastic Voyage’-like robot sub
By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
The Jerusalem Post
June 26, 2007

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1182409639914&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Israeli scientists have actually created the imaginary technology depicted by the 1966 science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, in which a submarine is reduced to microscopic size, injected into the bloodstream and able to travel through the body to provide medical treatment.

A tiny “submarine” robot has been designed by Dr. Nir Schwalb of the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel and Oded Solomon of the mechanical engineering department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They say it has the unique ability to “crawl” through tubes with the width of human veins and arteries, even going against the flow of blood at the speed in which it passes through blood vessels.

It is too early to know what medical uses the robot will have, but they suggest the possibility of being involved in brachytherapy, in which cancer patients are exposed to short-distance adiotherapy from a source placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment. Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat localized prostate cancer and cancers of the head and neck. In addition, numerous robots could be used simultaneously to deal with a large number of metastases (malignant tumors spread through the body).

The researchers stress that the project is an “interesting development, but it has a long way to go before it is used in medicine.” Solomon says that the tiny robot could be controlled for an unlimited amount of time to carry out any necessary medical procedure. The power source is an external magnetic field created near the patient that does not cause any harm to humans but supplies an endless supply of power for it to function. The robot’s special structure enables it to move while being controlled by the operator using the magnetic field.

The researchers noted that scientists at Kyoto University in Japan are developing a robot to travel independently in the human body. However, they said that its size of one centimeter in diameter would not allow it to pass into human veins. The Israeli robot, however, was only one millimeter in diameter, they said.

“Medicine is going to be much more focused, and the need to reach an exact target will only increase,” say the Israeli researchers.

“The academic world is trying to create a robot that will be tiny enough to pass through the body and at the same time have navigational abilities for performing complex medical tasks,” added Prof. Moshe Shaham of the Technion, who is a participant in the research.

Shaham has already developed a robot for the Mazor company that today is used in many hospitals around the world for performing spinal surgery.

The Haifa/Ariel robot is built as a central structure with tiny arms that allow it to grab onto the insides of tubes. Any movement makes it possible to advance a bit, and its unique hair-like structure allows travel through many sizes of tubes. Blood vessels in the body are not uniform in their diameter size, so it is important that the robot can “hold on” inside various sized tubes, they said.

In Fantastic Voyage, a secret agent is recruited by a top-secret organization to join the crew of a submarine called Proteus. The crew and submarine are reduced to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of scientist Jan Benes, who defects to the West and goes into a coma after suffering a surgically inaccessible blood clot. They must reach the brain with a laser to melt the clot within an hour or the miniaturization effect will wear off. However, the voyage is undermined by one of the crew who is a saboteur and is prepared to risk everything to stop the mission.

 

HAMAS, AL-QAEDA’S NEW BEST FRIENDS

Al-Qaeda leader urges support for Hamas
The Associated Press
June 25, 2007

www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/06/25/ap/world/main2975219.shtml

Al-Qaida’s deputy leader called on Muslims worldwide to back Hamas with weapons, money and attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests, urging the Palestinian militant group on Monday to unite with al-Qaida after its takeover of Gaza.

The Internet audio message from Ayman al-Zawahri, who is Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, marked a major shift by al-Qaida, which in the past criticized Hamas for joining a government with the U.S.-supported Fatah faction.

The audiotape appeared aimed at exploiting Hamas’ gains and could fuel fears among Arab countries that Hamas-run Gaza will become a breeding ground for armed extremists.

But Hamas appeared unconfortable Monday with al-Zawahri’s approach. The Palestinian group has been cool in the past to attempts to link it with al-Qaida, saying its conflict is with Israel and that it has no plans to attack targets abroad. Also, Hamas does not want to alienate powerful Arab countries, such as Egypt.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, a hardliner, distanced his group from the al-Qaida deputy’s comments, but stopped short of criticizing them.

“Hamas has its own program, regardless of the comments of this group or that group,” he said Monday. “In Hamas, we want to have good relations with all Arab and Muslim powers, regardless of how close or far away we are in our own programs.”

The audiotape was clearly made after Hamas’ takeover of Gaza earlier this month, marking a rapid response from al-Qaida’s top leadership to the events. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but it was posted on a Web forum where al-Zawahri has issued messages in the past.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Paris dfor diplomatic meetings, was asked whether the message portends an opening for Al-Qaida, which previously has not had a large following among Palestinians.

“Extremism in the Middle East, and unfortunately in the Palestinian territories continues,” Rice said, “and extremists link up with extremists.”

Al-Zawahri urged Hamas to implement Islamic law in Gaza, telling it, “Taking over power is not a goal but a means to implement God’s word on earth.”

“Unite with mujahedeen (holy warriors) in Palestine ... and with all mujahedeen in the world in the face of the upcoming attack where Egyptians and Saudis are expected to play part of it,” he added, suggesting that the two countries intend to attack Hamas to uproot its control of Gaza.

“Provide them (Hamas) with money, do your best to get it there, break the siege imposed on them by crusaders and Arab leader traitors,” al-Zawahri, who is Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, said, addressing Muslims around the world. “Facilitate weapons smuggling from neighboring countries.”

“We can support them by targeting the crusader and Zionist interests wherever we can,” al-Zawahri said.

The 25-minute tape, al-Zawahri’s seventh released this year, was posted on the same day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was hosting a summit in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheik as a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Along with Mubarak and Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Jordan’s King Abdullah II are also attending the meeting.

Egypt in particular fears a Hamas-ruled Gaza could fuel extremism that could spill over the border onto its own territory.

In Monday’s tape, al-Zawahri called on Bedouins in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to help Hamas against the “repressive Egyptian regime.”

The Gaza-Egypt border is riddled with tunnels through which weapons and explosives have been smuggled in both direction. Egypt has accused militants among the Sinai’s Bedouin population of being behind three terror attacks on tourist resorts in the peninsula since 2004.

 

COMING TO YOUR TV SOON: IRANIAN PROPAGANDA IN ENGLISH

Iran to launch 24-hour English-language satellite news channel
Reuters
June 26. 2007

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/875286.html

Iran’s state broadcaster will launch a 24-hour English-language satellite news channel next week to rival dominant Western services, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday.

Tehran-based PRESS TV, staffed by both Iranians and foreigners, is scheduled to start broadcasting from Tehran on Monday, and will seek to compete against the likes of CNN and BBC World, Nader Rad, head of live programming, told Reuters.

“The news is mostly covered by the Western media. We would like to have a say in this,” Rad said. “They (Western outlets) don’t usually cover the whole story ... The news about Iraq does not cover all perspectives. The news about Palestine and Beirut is also like this.”

Rad said Britons and Americans were among those working for the new channel, some based in Tehran. PRESS TV had journalists in Washington, New York, London, Beirut and Damascus, and was planning to have staff in Baghdad and Cairo, he said.

The PRESS TV Web site (www.presstv.ir) said one of the goals was “to break the global media stranglehold of Western outlets.” It also said the channel wanted to “bridge cultural divisions.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly rails against the West for seeking to impose its policies on the rest of the world. Iran is embroiled in a row with the West which accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

The Iranian channel faces an increasingly crowded field of English-language satellite channels after last year’s launch of Al Jazeera International by the Qatar-based broadcaster and France 24, which promised a “French vision”.

Iran’s state broadcaster already runs the Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam and the Persian-language Jaam-e Jam.

Officially ordinary Iranians cannot see any of these channels at home because satellite dishes are banned. In practice, the ban is only sporadically enforced and such dishes are plainly visible on rooftops in Tehran and elsewhere.

Rad said PRESS TV would carry news bulletins, talk shows and documentaries, some of which would be bought from abroad.

“It is a state-owned channel but it is not managed by the state. It has its own guidelines,” Rad said but would not give further details about editorial policy.

 

BBC “HAMAS MEMBER” ALLOWED INTO GAZA

Israel lets Hamas member enter Gaza
By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
June 27, 2007

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1182409649992&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Despite Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) opposition and per the request of the BBC, the coordinator of government activities allowed a Hamas member who works for the BBC to enter the Gaza Strip last week to assist in efforts to release kidnapped journalist Alan Johnston.

Defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that a week ago, a request came from the BBC asking that a Palestinian employee of the news company who is believed to be a close associate of senior Hamas officials be allowed to enter Gaza.

The employee, who lives in Gaza , had traveled to Egypt with his wife for medical reasons and the BBC told Israeli officials that they believed he could assist in negotiating Johnston’s release.

The Shin Bet objected to the BBC request, saying that the employee was actually a member of Hamas, and perhaps even a terrorist operative.

In the end, however, the Defense Ministry decided to allow him to to enter Israel from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge and then to enter northern Gaza through the Erez crossing.

He was not able to enter Gaza directly from Egypt since the Rafah crossing was closed.

Johnston was abducted by the Army of Islam terrorist group on March 12.

On Monday, a videotape of Johnston wearing an explosives belt was released, with the journalist warning that his captors intend to detonate the belt if Hamas or anyone else attempted to free him by force.

“We did not want to be blamed for holding up Johnston’s release,” one official said, explaining the decision to allow the Hamas member into Gaza.

“If we had rejected the request the British would be able to use our decision as an excuse for why Johnston is not being released.”

The Palestinian entered Gaza , and after a few days informed his BBC employers that Johnston was not being held by Hamas and therefore the group had little influence over his captors, believed to be from the Army of Islam and members of the Durmush clan from the Rafah area in the southern Gaza Strip.

The decision to allow the BBC employee to enter Gaza was not the first time that Israel has bent its rules and allowed people believed to hold influence over Hamas into the Gaza Strip.

In April, Israel allowed a delegation of Arab diplomats and security officials from countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations - including Saudi Arabia - to enter Gaza on behalf of the British government.

BBC strongly denied that any of its employees were members of Hamas.

“We deny that our members are employees of Hamas,” Simon Wilson, Jerusalem’s BBC Bureau Chief told the Post.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.