Israel in the News Sep/Oct 2012
Mahdi Virus Steals Data
A new computer virus with Persian words in its programming code has infected sensitive computers across the Middle East, including Israel, and gathered information on critical national infrastructure, an Israeli security expert told The Jerusalem Post.
The Trojan horse has been dubbed “Mahdi” after the Shi’ite Iranian messiah-like figure, since the programmers appear to have used a key folder with that name and also included a text file named mahdi.txt in the malicious software.
Aviv Raff, deputy chief technology officer at the Petah Tikva-based Seculert company, which discovered the new virus, said that, like the earlier Flame virus discovered in Iranian computers, Mahdi can turn on microphones in computers, record in-room conversations, take screenshots, and steal file content.
The five countries with the highest number of infected computers are Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Iran, then Israel, are the most affected respectively.
In Israel, as in other countries, computers found to be infected by Mahdi belong to engineering students and people working on national infrastructure projects.
Raff said that while the program code was effective, it was not so complex and was created quickly. “Whoever did this needed to have some kind of financial backup,” he said. “It’s a big threat to any state’s security.”
The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
Iran At War, Syria Dangerous
Israeli President Shimon Peres told CNN recently Iran is in an “open war” with Israel and blamed the Islamic regime and Hezbollah for the bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis in July.
He said Israel has hard intelligence about the attack and believes more attacks are being planned, calling Iran a “center of terror.” “Israel is not threatening Iran. Iran is threatening Israel. It’s not a war; it’s a one-sided attack,” Peres said.
The Kayhan newspaper, which operates directly under the supervision of Iran’s Islamic supreme leader, is calling for Syria to attack Israel. Meanwhile, Syria is believed to have the largest stash of chemical weapons in the world, consisting principally of sarin, mustard gas, and cyanide.
According to Gen. Adnan Silou, the most senior-ranking member to defect from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and join the Free Syrian Army (FSA), “There were two main stores: warehouse 417 in east Damascus, and another, number 419, in Homs area. We had 1,500 soldiers and two or three generals stationed at each base.”
“I know Bashar al-Assad’s character,” he said. “It is very possible that he will use the chemical weapons against his own people.” He said the weapons can be deployed “from tanks, from rockets, and from helicopters.” He is convinced the regime sprayed pesticides from planes on population areas in Rastan, a hub for the FSA close to Homs.
Two of Israel’s top security officials say Assad’s forces still control Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and have recently intensified security around it.
China Signs Deal for Railroad
Israel and China have signed historic cooperation agreements to build the Eilat railway and future projects, including the inland canal port north of Eilat, Globes, Israel’s business daily, reported. Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz and China’s Minister of Transport Li Shenglin signed the memorandum of understanding in Beijing.
“The main project,” Globes said, “is construction of a cargo rail line that will link Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa with the Eilat Port. There are also plans to extend the line to Jordan’s Aqaba Port.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared the Eilat railway a priority, and Israeli sources told Globes the Chinese also consider it important.
U.S. Teens in IDF
A record 350 American teens have enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) this year, and many of them serve in elite commando units.
The majority, ages 18 to 22, want to enlist in combat and infantry units. The Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah organization flew 120 of the future IDF soldiers to Israel over the summer as part of the Garin Tzabar pro-gram for Diaspora Jews to move to Israel and directly serve in the armed forces.
Deputy head of the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, Erez Halfon, said, “This is the best answer to Iran’s and Hezbollah’s terror activity: Jewish teens from North America that leave behind the easy life for the Zionistic ideal.”
Today more than 20 percent of the IDF’s soldiers are new immigrants, and approximately 70 percent have stayed in Israel after their service.
Israel, S. Sudan Sign Water Pact
In the first official agreement between Israel and South Sudan, Israel Military Industries Ltd. has signed a pact to cooperate on water infrastructure and technology development.
Israel’s Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said in a statement aimed at Akec Paul Mayom, water and irrigation minister of South Sudan, “We will continue to do everything possible in order to assist you. You are among friends.”
The agreement outlined plans for cooperation on desalination, irrigation, water transport, and purification, according to the Energy and Water Ministry.
Both peoples, Landau said, have had to stand up for their existence, and Israel has much to pass on to South Sudan, which is struggling.
The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
New Dispute Over Temple Mount
A new dispute has erupted over the Temple Mount after Israel’s Atty. Gen. Yehuda Weinstein declared recently Israeli law must be applied—though with great sensitivity—to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex there.
Weinstein merely responded to a petition by the Temple Mount Faithful, which claims the Muslim Waqf’s construction to strengthen the Dome of the Rock’s roof is harming the Foundation Stone, a large stone on which the Ark of the Covenant is believed to have rested.
Jerusalem police said the Foundation Stone is protected by scaffolding, a tarp, and oversight by the Israel Antiquities Authority. But the police’s attempt to diffuse the situation apparently did not satisfy Sheikh Yusuf Salameh, a preacher at the mosque.
Salameh denounced Weinstein, declaring “Al-Quds” (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) will remain Islamic until the end of time. He said it is “an Islamic city, as determined by the creator of the world and as indicated in the Qur’an,” reported Arutz-7.
He said the entire 35-acre site—both above and below the ground—including the area within the walls, as well as the buildings, roads, terraces, and domes, belong to the Waqf. He then called on the UN to get involved.
Although Muslims refuse to recognize any history that predates Islam, the fact is the Muslim religion did not exist prior to Muhammad, who was born in 570. Not a single Muslim structure existed on the Temple Mount until after 638. However, Jewish history there dates back thousands of years to Abraham, who almost sacrificed Isaac on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:2), and King David, who purchased the site from Ornan the Jebusite (1 Chr. 21:24–25). Later Judaism’s two Temples stood there.
As a gesture of goodwill after defeating the Arabs in the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel gave administration of the Temple Mount to the Waqf.
“The Waqf has taken advantage of this,” reported Arutz-7, “and removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the Jewish holy site. At the entrance, a Waqf sign says, ‘The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.’”
Israeli police limit the number of Jewish worshippers allowed on the Temple Mount and often close it to Jews in response to Muslim riots that are planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out, Arutz-7 said.