Thursday 20 September 2007
Thursday, September 20th 2007
BY MATTHEW KALMAN in Jerusalem and BILL HUTCHINSON in New York
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Israeli officials vowed to wipe Syria off the map if it is attacked
with chemical weapons like one that reportedly exploded in July at a
secret Syrian base staffed with Iranian engineers.
Politicians in Israel said yesterday they were not picking a fight
with their neighbor, but pledged to forcefully retaliate if chemical
warheads come screaming across its shared border.
"We will not attack them first. But if they ever use these weapons
against Israel, then we must be clear — it will be the end of this
evil and brutal dictatorship," Yuval Steinitz, a right-wing member of
the Israeli parliament, told the Daily News yesterday.
Sparking shock waves across the Middle East was a report in Jane's
Defence Weekly about an accidental explosion at a top secret Syrian
base in July.
Citing Syrian intelligence sources, the report claimed a team of
Iranian and Syrian engineers were killed July 26 while trying to arm a
Scud-C missile with a mustard gas warhead.
Syrian official news agency, SANA, reported that least 15 Syrian
military personnel had been "martyred" and 50 others injured in the
blast near the northern city of Aleppo on the Turkish border. It
claimed the early morning explosion was caused by the high
The SANA report mentioned nothing of Iranian personnel killed in the mishap.
Jane's said dozens of Iranian workers were among those who died when a
fire in the missile's engine triggered the explosion and release of a
toxic cloud of lethal chemical agents banned under international law.
U.S. intelligence sources played down the report saying they've seen
no credible evidence chemical weapons were involved in the Syrian
Tuesday 18 September 2007
From Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem
ISRAEL destroyed a fledgling Syrian nuclear weapons system in an air
raid 12 days ago, it was claimed last night.
The suggestion fuelled speculation that the air strike on a remote
area of northern Syria wiped out a secret nuclear programme
established with North Korean equipment.
John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told
Israeli television: 'I think it would be unusual for Israel to conduct
a military operation inside Syria other than for a very high value
target, and certainly a Syrian effort in the nuclear weapons area
He added: 'I think this is a clear message not only to Syria. I think
it's a clear message to Iran as well that its continued efforts to
acquire nuclear weapons are not going to go unanswered.'
Israel imposed a rare news blackout after the raid.
But Syria claimed Israeli warplanes were forced to drop their
munitions and fuel harmlessly in the desert after coming under
Syria has also protested to Israel about the breach of its airspace
and threatened to retaliate.
In a marked escalation of the crisis last night, Iran reportedly
threatened to rally to Syria's defence if its Arab ally is attacked by
either by Israel or the U.S.
Israeli radio claimed a Persian-language website had suggested Iran
has 600 Shihab-3 missiles that it will launch at Israel on the first
day Iran or Syria is attacked.
With a possible range of up to 1,260 miles, the Shihab-3 could reach
all of Israel, including its nuclear reactor in the south. The website
also said that Iran would launch up to 15 missiles at U.S. targets
inside Iraq if either Iran or Syria is attacked.
The air raid came amid heightened tensions over Iran's nuclear
ambitions and fears that another country in the Middle East may be
aligning itself with North Korea over an atomic programme.
Syria continues to host Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other deadly terror
groups in its capital Damascus.
It has also been accused of allowing Iran to ship huge amounts of
military hardware across its territory to the Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Israel has always made clear it will respond if attacked, perhaps with
its own, far superior nuclear capability.
The news blackout means Israeli newspapers have been forced to recycle
speculation from around the world.
One of the most common claims is that the target of the attack was a
shipment of nuclear weapons from North Korea bound for use by Syria or
possibly to be passed on to Hezbollah.
The Israeli daily newspaper Maariv quoted 'foreign reports' of a raid
by combined air and ground forces more than 200 miles inside Syrian
It suggested 'the operation carried out was one of the most dangerous
and brilliant in the history of the Israeli defence forces'.
Andrew Semmel, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear
non-proliferation, said Syria was on the country's nuclear 'watch
'There are indicators that they do have something going on there,' he added.
'We do know there are a number of foreign technicians that have been
in Syria. We do know that there may have been contact between Syria
and some secret suppliers for nuclear equipment.'
The few tight-lipped comments coming from Israeli leaders seemed,
however, to suggest that any danger was past – at least for now.
The raid is said to have involved a group of up to eight Israeli F-15
warplanes, which penetrated Syrian airspace before dawn on September
Two jettisoned fuel tanks were later discovered in Turkish territory.
It was the first Israeli raid into Syria since October 2003, when
Israeli jets attacked a terrorist training camp on the outskirts of
If it is confirmed that the air strike was to destroy a nuclear site
in Syria, it will evoke memories of Israel's 1981 raid on an Iraqi
nuclear reactor at Osiraq.
The facility was crippled in a surprise attack aimed at preventing
Saddam Hussein from acquiring the means to make nuclear weapons.
Monday 17 September 2007
Monday, September 17th 2007
BY MATTHEW KALMAN in Herzliya, Israel
and BILL HUTCHINSON in New York
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
The whereabouts of a Russian emigre at the center of a murder
investigation into the deaths of two New York women grew more
mysterious yesterday when his wife insisted she hasn't seen him in
Detectives probing the deaths of Larysa Vasserman, 48, and Tatiana
Korkhova, 54, would like to talk with Eugene Perchikov, who is the
beneficiary in both women's life insurance policies.
But finding Perchikov might take a global dragnet as he jets around
the world from Russia to Israel and the United States.
"We have been separated for two years. He hasn't lived here since
then," Perchikov's wife, Natalia, told the Daily News from her
suburban Tel Aviv home. "We don't live together anymore."
The wife refused to answer questions about her estranged husband,
saying, "I can't tell you anything about him and I don't want to talk
While Perchikov has not been charged with any crime, he has been
accused in two lawsuits ofmurdering Vasserman and Korkhova.
In both cases, the medical examiner failed to determine the cause of death.
Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney's office is pursuing a
Perchikov collected more than $1 million on Vasserman's insurance
policy after she was found dead in her Manhattan home in 2004.
He was also named beneficiary on Korkhova's $1 million policy when she
was found dead in her Brooklyn apartment in 2002. Perchikov's Israeli
friend Larisa Yurkov-Shkolnik was listed as a beneficiary on a second
Korkhova insurance policy. Both insurance companies refused to pay.
Contacted yesterday by The News at her home in Raanana, Israel,
Yurkov-Shkolnik declined to discuss her involvement with Perchikov.
"I can't talk about anything to do with the court case in America,"
she said. "I don't want to talk about it."
Tuesday 11 September 2007
Chronicle of Higher Education
Daily News Blog
September 11, 2007
Jerusalem - Officials at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have
welcomed a ruling by an American court that ordered the government of
Iran to pay compensation for an American student who was killed on the
campus in a Hamas bomb attack in 2002.
The student, Marla Bennett, a 24-year-old from San Diego who was a
graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, was studying for
an M.A. in Jewish education. She was one of nine students and
cafeteria workers killed in the lunchtime explosion in the crowded
Frank Sinatra Cafeteria at the university's Mount Scopus Campus.
In a ruling issued on August 30, Judge Royce C. Lamberth, of the U.S.
District Court in Washington, determined that because the bombing had
been carried out by members of the Hamas terrorist movement, which is
supported by the Iranian government, Iran bore responsibility for the
attack. Judge Lamberth ordered Iran to pay $12,904,548 to Ms.
Bennett's estate and family. The Iranian government did not respond to
the lawsuit, and as with other such terrorism-related litigation
against Iran, the plaintiffs are likely to find it difficult to
collect the judgment.
In a statement issued today, the Hebrew University administration said
it "pays tribute to the memory of Marla Bennett and all of the other
victims of the terrorist attack and expressed satisfaction at the
decision of the court, which perhaps will ease, if only slightly, the
sorrow of the family." Matthew Kalman
Monday 10 September 2007
By MATTHEW KALMAN
It seems almost unthinkable in the homeland created by the Jews after the terrors of fascism.
But Israel has a cell of neo-Nazis, accused of a string of attacks on foreign workers, orthodox Jews, drug addicts and gays.
The immigrants from the former Soviet Union are all Israeli citizens and have been arrested in connection with 15 assaults.
The anti-semitic group attacked at least 15 jews
News of the arrests has shocked Israel, which was founded nearly 60 years ago in the wake of the Holocaust.
The discovery of anti-Semitism within its own borders has dominated Israeli newspapers and TV and radio news shows.
All of the suspects are in their late teens or early 20s, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Eight have been arrested and yesterday a court ruled that they should remain in custody.
Another has fled the country.
The gang documented its activities on film and in photographs, and Israeli TV stations showed grainy footage of victims lying helpless on the floor while several men kicked them.
Police found knives, spiked balls, explosives and other weapons in the suspects' possession, Mr Rosenfeld said.
White Power: a Nazi salute reveals his tattoo
One photo showed a suspect holding an M16 rifle in one hand and in the other, a sign reading "Heil Hitler".
Detectives discovered the skinhead ring after investigating the desecration of two synagogues in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva more than a year ago.
Police found the cell was in contact with fascist groups abroad, and materials seized include a German-language video about neo-Nazis in the U.S..
Group members wore tattoos of Celtic crosses - a symbol adopted by white supremacists.
They also bore tattoos of barbed-wire fences, and the number 88, code for Heil Hitler because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. Another tattoo proclaimed "White Power."
Targets of their carefully planned attacks included workers from Asia, drug addicts, homosexuals, punks and Jews who wore skullcaps.
In one case the group discussed planning a murder, Mr Rosenfeld said, without providing details.
The group leader was named as Eli Boanitov, 19, of Petah Tikva.
In the past, there have been only isolated cases of neo-Nazi activity in Israel.
"This is the first time that we've arrested such a large number of individuals who are part of an organised neo-Nazi group," Mr Rosenfeld said.
At the hearing, suspects cover their faces with t-shirts
Skrewdriver: a Neo Nazi rock band formed in the late 70's
The eight arrested youths immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return, which grants automatic Israeli citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent.
Police said none of them were Jewish as defined by religious law.
All profess Christianity.
More than a million Jews immigrated from the former Soviet Union to Israel in the 1990s, and more than half a million in the 20 years before that.
Because of the high assimilation rate in the Soviet Union, many Jews there married non- Jews.
When they later moved to Israel, they took their spouses, children and grandchildren with them.
This means many from the former Soviet Union with questionable ties to Judaism have been allowed to immigrate.
Mr Rosenfeld said all of the suspects had "parents or grandparents who were Jewish in one way or another".
Israel doesn't have a hate crimes law, and suspects in past cases have been tried as Holocaust deniers, he added.
The suspects came to Israel as Russian immigrants