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Mon. March 2, 2015 EDITOR'S PICKS :  
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Issue: Israel's Jewish Identity. What Does it Mean?
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PA: Made "Generous" Offer; Israel: "Bring it to the Table"
More Arabs Join Israel's National Service
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Netanyahu's Planned Speech to Congress Sparks Controversy
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10 Children Killed by Assad Air Strike in Syrian Village

An air strike by the Syrian Air Force killed at least 10 children on Sunday as they played outdoors during a break from long hours in shelters. At least 15 others were wounded in the attack. The bombing took place in the village of Deir Al-Asfir, about 8 miles east of Damascus. An anti-government activist told the Reuters news agency that all of the rebel fighters operate outside of the village, rendering the air raid unnecessary from a military point of view. It was also alleged that cluster bombs were used in the raid – a charge frequently made and confirmed last month by a UN official. Video footage showed the dead children and scores of unexploded bomblets from cluster munitions. The death toll in the 20-month struggle between the Al-Assad regime and rebel fighters has now reached 40,000 according to activist organizations. On the Syrian border with Israel Sunday, stray bullets from inside Syria struck an Israeli army vehicle, but there were no injuries. The Israelis lodged a complaint with the United Nations.

Egyptís Morsi Tries to Deflect Outrage at His Power Grab; Youth Dies in Protest

Egyptian President Morsi continues to try to explain away the anger ignited by his declaration on Thursday asserting that his decrees are immune from judicial oversight. Raucous demonstrations have been staged in a number of cities, many of them aimed at the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization Morsi headed until his election. At one such protest in the city of Damanhour, on the Nile Delta, a 15-year old boy was killed when the Brotherhood office was stormed. On Thursday, Morsi planned to meet with top jurists in an attempt to defuse the confrontation. His office has been trying to appease the populace with the promise that the decree is only intended to be in effect until a new constitution is in place, but the panel drafting the document is completely controlled by the Islamists loyal to Morsi so few appear to be assuaged by the argument.

New Complement to Iron Dome in Israelís Defense Shield Succeeds in Test

The newest component of Israel’s anti-missile missile system that includes the Iron Dome, the superstar of the week-long battle against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, has succeeded in its latest test. David’s Sling, or Magic Wand, will intercept medium range missiles in the same way Iron Dome demonstrated its ability to identify and destroy incoming rockets fired from short range. The Arrow system will handle the long-range threats. Together, when the final component is deployed in 2015, Israel will have what is arguably the world’s best defensive shield in place. During the Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza, Iron Dome mesmerized the world with its startling success rate of more than 80%. The multi-mission radar that is at the heart of Iron Dome and David’s Sling identifies incoming objects, decides whether its trajectory is headed toward a predetermined safety zone, and if so, destroys the projectile. The Iron Dome is used against missiles fired from up to 45 miles away while the Arrow system handles long range exo-atmospheric ballistic missiles.

Palestinian Authority Presses for Reconciliation Following Hamas Surge

The Palestinian Authority is apparently pressing for reconciliation with Hamas before the Gaza-based faction can ride a surge of popularity that emerged from its week-long fight against Israel into control over all elements of Palestinian life. Victory rallies in praise of Hamas’ perceived victory over Israel were held in towns across the Fatah-controlled West Bank, with Fatah officials declaring an end to the divisiveness, followed by a delegation sent to the Gaza Strip on behalf of Fatah-head and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. On Sunday, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization announced that the PA would release Hamas-aligned prisoners being held by Fatah – a longtime sticking point that has contributed to the ongoing bifurcation between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip – and Hamas indicated it would reciprocate. Long eschewed from anything that touched on officialdom in the West Bank, Hamas leaders there are now being included in leadership meetings and although no date has been set, PLO Executive Committee official Nabil Shaath told the Ma’an news agency that Mahmoud Abbas has decided to pay an official visit to Gaza. Based upon the flurry of indicators, expectations for a successful next round of reconciliation talks, set for Cairo after the conclusion of the Palestinian UN gambit on November 29th, are higher than usual.

Arafatís Body to be Exhumed on Tuesday

The body of Yassir Arafat will be exhumed on Tuesday as part of the investigation into his death in 2004. Since his death in Paris, rumors have circulated that the Palestinian leader was murdered – most Palestinian sources pointing fingers at Israel although more low-key accusations suggested his own inner circle was involved. Earlier this year, the Al-Jazeera network, as part of preparations for a documentary, obtained personal items from Arafat’s widow and had them analyzed by a laboratory in Switzerland which discovered minute amounts of polonium-204 suggesting murder. Since that time, Arafat’s widow and Palestinian authorities have signed-off on the exhumation. Following completion of the samples-taking, Arafat will be re-interred in a military ceremony.



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