Iran Denies Failed Hit on Israeli Businessman
IRAN TRIED TO KILL ISRAELI BUSINESSMAN IN CYPRUS: Iran continued to deny accusations that it plotted to attack Israelis in Cyprus, days after Israel said that Iran was behind plans for an act of terror orchestrated by Tehran against Israeli businesspeople.
According to Fars News Agency’s International Group, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Cyprus responded to the latest accusation of the “Zionists against Iran.” “This [Israeli] regime always makes such baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the Iranian news agency said. “Zionist officials, who have repeatedly tried to create an atmosphere against the Islamic Republic of Iran without any documents.” “The Zionist regime has made such accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran, while the South Cypriot media reported on Sunday, October 3, this week that a Russian-Azerbaijani citizen had entered the Cypriot capital to assassinate Zionist billionaire Teddy Sagi, and suggested that the plot of the murder of this Zionist businessman had a commercial aspect and financial disputes with Russian partners,” Iran’s Fars News reported. Sagi, who made his fortune running gambling apps and owns London’s Cameden Market, was tipped off by the Israeli authorities – likely the Mossad – that assassins were after him, and he escaped Cyprus, where he lives, to Israel earlier this week. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s spokesman Matan Sidi said on Monday, October 4, the attempted murder was an Iranian terrorist attack, and that the assassin was targeting Israeli businessmen, not Sagi specifically. The hitman alleged to have been hired by Iran to kill Israeli businessmen reportedly has not been cooperating with the authorities. The 38-year-old Azreri man, who holds a Russian passport, would not answer any of the police’s questions other than to tell them where he rented two cars in Ayia Napa in Cyprus, one of which had a loaded pistol with a silencer inside it. (JPost / VFI News)
FINANCE MINISTER THREATENS TO LEAVE COALITION IF HAREDIM JOIN: Finance Minister and Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avidgor Liberman on Monday warned the government not to recruit Haredi lawmakers for the coalition and threatened to bolt the government if Haredi factions join.
Speaking at a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting Monday afternoon, criticized efforts by coalition leaders, including Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) to convince Haredi lawmakers to join the government. “I heard about all different officials wanting to have Shas or United Torah Judaism join the coalition,” said Liberman. “I want to make things clear: If that happens and they are brought in, Yisrael Beytenu won’t be there. It would mean bringing Netanyahu back into power.” Liberman also responded to the Meretz party’s recent meeting with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, expressing his disagreement with the meeting, which he attributed to Meretz trying to please its base. “I’ve never met Abbas because I don’t believe he wants peace. I think that the whole thing is unnecessary, but I understand the Meretz ministers. They have their voters. Obviously, the government is diverse, so you need to be flexible.” (INN / VFI News)
ENFORCEMENT OF NEW GREEN PASS STARTS THURSDAY: Enforcement of new Green Passes will begin Thursday, September 30, the high-level coronavirus cabinet decided Sunday, as Israel continues efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The need for new passes came into effect on Sunday, October 3, as the previous ones were automatically revoked. The government, however, has postponed enforcement after the online Health Ministry system crashed Sunday due to high demand, preventing many from obtaining their new permits. The Health Ministry has said that due to the technical difficulties, old passes can still be used for a few more days. Asked for a specific deadline on Monday, a ministry representative could not say for certain, but expected it to be Thursday, October 7, when enforcement starts. As part of the new rules, venues and businesses that require a Green Pass for entry must scan the permits’ QR codes before granting access to their holders. Though QR codes have existed on the Green Pass since the inception of the system, which is designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, most businesses have forgone scanning them for verification and often simply wave people through with a cursory glance. Each Green Pass holder’s QR code must now be scanned using a Health Ministry app and compared to their IDs to verify they can enter. The code is intended to make the passes harder to fake. Individuals who have not been vaccinated or who have not recovered from COVID-19 can also obtain a temporary Green Pass with a negative virus test (valid for 72 hours). Such a test must be paid for privately unless the person in question is not eligible for vaccination. Ministers decided that school children visiting museums in organized trips will not require passes. Municipal libraries will also be exempt from requiring a Green Pass for entry. The panel, holding its first meeting in a month, decided to retain Green Pass requirements for various outdoor gatherings, despite Health Ministry officials reportedly advocating waiving them in certain types of spaces, including outdoor restaurant seating, outdoor attractions and swimming pools. On Friday, the number of Israelis hospitalized in serious condition due to COVID-19 dropped below 600 for the first time since August 17, according to figures from the Health Ministry. On Monday morning that number stood at 564, with the vast majority of those patients unvaccinated. According to Health Ministry data, over 6 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, 5.6 million have received two doses, and over 3.5 million have had a booster shot administered. There are still some 800,000 Israelis eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine who have not yet received a single dose, according to ministry data. (TOI / VFI News)
SWEDISH MUHAMMAD CARTOON ARTIST AND HIS BODYGUARDS KILLED IN CAR CRASH: Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who had lived under police protection since making a sketch of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body in 2007, died in a weekend car crash along with two police bodyguards, police said Monday, October 4. He was 75.
Vilks and two plainclothes officers were killed in a head-on crash with a truck on Sunday afternoon, said Carina Persson, the police chief for southern Sweden. All three died on the spot. The 45-year-old truck driver was flown to a hospital with serious injuries. Persson said the police car, which was being driven by one of the bodyguards, had left Stockholm and was heading south when it veered into the path of the truck. Both vehicles then burst into flames. The accident occurred near Markaryd, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city. “There is nothing else, for now, that indicates that it was something else but a traffic accident,” Persson told a press conference. Sweden’s top police chief, Anders Thornberg, said an investigation would take place but was expected “to take a relatively long time.” Vilks was largely unknown outside Sweden before 2007 when he drew a sketch of Muhammad with a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims and Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry. Al-Qaida put a bounty on Vilks’ head. In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden. Since that time, Vilks was forced to live under police protection, “due to the fact that he made use of his freedom of expression and his artistic freedom,” Lind said Monday. (TOI / VFI News)
MICROSOFT TO HIRE 2,500 IN ISRAEL IN COMING YEARS: Microsoft intends to more than double the number of employees in its research and development operation in Israel over the next four years, increasing its headcount from about 2,000 to 4,500, the company said Wednesday, October 6.
Hundreds of open positions are currently being filled, from senior engineers to interns. This follows a period in which the global computing giant increased its Israeli R&D workforce by 30% across sites in Herzliya, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Nazareth. Microsoft said it plans to open five sites in Israel in the coming years. A new Tel Aviv site will host more than 1,000 employees on 25,000 square-meter grounds. The company is also scouting for additional space in Herzliya of 17,000 sq.m., adjacent to the brand-new Microsoft campus that was unveiled a year and a half ago, to accommodate 1,000 additional employees. Two development sites will be opened next year in Beersheba and Jerusalem to extend the company’s geographic reach and include underrepresented sectors, such as ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs. The location of the fifth site is still being considered, and will be chosen based on factors like workforce diversity, work-life balance and minimizing commute time for those intending to travel to the office, the company said. The new facilities will join the company’s flagship sustainable and accessible campus in Herzliya launched last year. The 46,000-sq.m. building is the first in Israel to gain the highest level (3-star) Fitwel certification, which focuses on supporting a healthy workplace environment. It is also Israel’s first building to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) V4 Building Design and Construction Gold certification, ranking buildings’ sustainability and environmental impact. The campus was designed with innovation, sustainability, accessibility, inclusion and employee well-being in mind. Established in 1991, Microsoft’s R&D center in Israel was the company’s first development center outside the United States. Microsoft’s Israel R&D center now has over 30 different product groups, playing a role in the development of many of Microsoft’s core products and advanced technologies, including data security, cloud services, Big Data, digital health, autonomous driving platforms, AI and Surface devices. (JPost / VFI News)
HAS THE LOCATION OF NOAH’S ARK FINALLY BEEN PROVEN USING 3D SCANS?: In 1959, a cartographer named Ilhan Durupinar discovered a boat-shaped footprint on top of a mountain in the Dogubayazit region in Turkey. Now, American researchers and Turkish scientists of Noah’s Ark Discovered Project claim that they have proof that the biblical relic lies beneath the surface of Durupinar.
Using 3D scans of GPR and ERT technology, the researchers claim that they uncovered a man-made boat structure beneath the ground, before beginning any excavation. The formation identified in the scans, according to the team, matches the dimensions of the Genesis description of Noah’s Ark. Researcher Andrew Jones and lead scientist Dr. Fethi Ahmet Yüksel of the Department of Geophysical Engineering, Applied Geophysics Department of Istanbul University believe that the results of the scans indicate a man-made artifact beneath the surface that could well be the Ark, and are eager to continue studying the location. “The new GPR data shows parallel lines and angular structures 8 to 20 feet down,” claim the team on their project website. “These parallel lines and right angles below the surface are something you would not expect to see in a natural, geologic formation.” The spikes and wanes in public and academic interest were enough to lead the Turkish Ministry of Culture to place the site under national protection and label it a national park, but no official excavation projects have been approved. Several independent teams are studying the site simultaneously, both Turkish and foreign. Perhaps the findings by Noah’s Ark Scans, making use of technology that didn’t exist during previous expeditions, could sway the verdict regarding deeper examination of the location that could potentially be hiding one of the most significant relics in history. (JPost / VFI News)
SWEETENERS HURT THE ABILITY OF GUT BACTERIA TO KEEP US WELL: Artificial sweeteners cause a “breakdown in communication” among gut bacteria, changing the microbiome and potentially increasing the risk of disease, Israeli scientists say.
Gut bacteria keep people healthy, but to do so they need to be present in the right balance. This is maintained in part by a communication mechanism that bacteria use, called quorum sensing, which enables bacteria to detect and respond to cell population density by regulating their own genes, affecting their behavior. “Artificial sweeteners disrupt that communication, which indicates that artificial sweeteners may be problematic in the long run,” said Dr. Karina Golberg, who led the peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Artificial sweeteners are widely used in the food and drink industry. Various studies have raised health concerns about them, but Golberg said that her study set out to identify how, exactly, sweeteners may be affecting health. Her team exposed bacteria to FDA-approved sweeteners in lab conditions. It used light-emitting bacteria whose emission of light was reduced if bacterial communication was disrupted. It found that the three most common sweeteners all impeded bacterial communication: saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. Three less common sweeteners, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, and neotame, did not have this effect. Golberg told The Times of Israel: “What we found is that the most popular artificial sweeteners interfere with communication between bacteria which regulates important functions, and once this is harmed the bacteria cannot conduct themselves properly as a ‘community.’ “When you disrupt the bacterial communication you are disrupting the natural bacterial balance in the gut which can, in turn, cause problems with digestion, and increased risk of obesity and of type two diabetes, and other health problems.” Golberg’s colleague Prof. Ariel Kushmaro said that faced with this research, manufacturers should start better labeling products to show how much sweetener they contain, so consumers can make informed choices. “There is little accurate labeling of artificial sweeteners on products, which makes it difficult to know how much each product contains,” he said. “Our research should push the food industry to reevaluate their use of artificial sweeteners.” (TOI / VFI News)
RESEARCH REVEALS HOW MUCH PLASTIC DEBRIS IS CURRENTLY FLOATING IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA: A research team headed by Greek scientists has found that plastic debris can be observed across the Mediterranean Sea, from beaches and surface waters to seafloors, and estimate that around 3,760 metric tons of plastics are currently floating in the Mediterranean.
They developed a model to track the pathways and fate of dangerous plastic debris from land-based sources in the sea that borders southern European countries and Israel. Global plastic production has been increasing each year since the 1950s, with 368 million tons of plastic produced in 2019 alone. A high proportion of plastic waste ends up in seas and oceans. Estimates suggest that more than 250,000 tons of plastic debris are currently floating around in oceans all over the world. The social, political, and cultural variety of inhabited countries along the coastline of the Mediterranean makes the implementation of a common marine ecosystem management policy difficult, they asserted, but models such as the one from the study can help mitigate this problem. “The use of predictive models, like the one presented here, that can connect observed plastic concentrations with their sources, is critical for the designation of successful management plans,” a new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science wrote. The Mediterranean Sea is considered a hot spot for plastic pollution, probably because of its densely populated coastlines, fishing, shipping, tourism and a limited outflow of surface water to the Atlantic. At the same time, the Mediterranean is rich in biodiversity, making it an area of great concern for the conservation of marine ecosystems. Plastic pollution affects all levels of marine biodiversity, with micro- and macroplastic particles found at the sea surface, beaches, the seafloor and within the bodies of large and small marine animals. It has also been reported that people ingest plastic when they eat food coming from the sea. (I365 / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff