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The Daily TIP: France Freezes Iranian Assets Over Foiled Paris Bomb Plot on Exiled Opposition

Posted by Tip Staff - October 02, 2018

France Freezes Iranian Assets Over Foiled Paris Bomb Plot on Exiled Opposition
UNRWA Evacuates Foreign Staff from Gaza to Israel Over Death Threats
Eye on the Spine
IsraAID Sending Teams to North Carolina, Philippines, Indonesia in Wake of Natural Disasters

France Freezes Iranian Assets Over Foiled Paris Bomb Plot on Exiled Opposition

France said Tuesday that it had seized assets belonging to Iran's intelligence services and two Iranian nationals in response to a plot to bomb an exiled Iranian opposition group's rally outside Paris in June, The Times of Israel reported.

The attack was reportedly thwarted by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, in cooperation with European allies.

Senior French official said the government had no doubt that elements of the Iranian state were behind the terror plot. “This extremely serious act envisaged on our territory could not go without a response,” France’s interior, foreign and economy ministers said in a rare joint statement.

The ministers added: “In taking this decision, France underlines its determination to fight against terrorism in all its forms, particularly on its own territory.”

The asset freezes target two individuals identified as Assadollah Asadi and Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, the French decree said. Asadi is an Iranian diplomat accredited in Austria, who was arrested over the bomb plot last month and is set to be extradited from Germany to Belgium for prosecution.

The countermeasures by France could have serious consequences for the Islamic Republic, coming at a time when Iran’s regime is looking to European countries to salvage the JCPOA, known as the 2015 nuclear accord, after the United States pulled out.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, the United States, Israel and Arab allies warned last week of the threat posed by Iran and called for harsh sanctions against the regime. They criticized Europe’s support for the nuclear accord and what they called a policy of appeasement.

“The same week Iran was caught red-handed for trying to murder European citizens, European leaders were laying out the red carpet for President Rouhani, pledging to give them more money,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech in front of the full assembly. In August, the first round of renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran entered into effect as part of Washington's strategy to apply "maximum pressure" on the Islamic Republic over its illicit nuclear and non-nuclear activities. A second round of sanctions, targeting Iran's energy industry, will take effect on November 5.

UNRWA Evacuates Foreign Staff from Gaza to Israel Over Death Threats

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced Monday that it had evacuated most of its international senior officials from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip due to fears for their safety, The Time of Israel reported.

UNRWA said it had “decided to temporarily withdraw part of its international staff from Gaza following a series of worrying security incidents affecting its personnel in the Strip.”

International staffers had received death threats from local employees who face dismissal. The agency’s statement said that “earlier today, a number of staff were harassed and prevented from carrying out their duties.”

UNRWA criticized Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group which exercises complete political and military control over Gaza, for a lack of security. “The lack of effective security and safety risk impacting vital humanitarian services to more than 1.3 million refugees in Gaza,” it said. Around 80% of Palestinians in the impoverished coastal enclave are eligible for UNRWA aid.

UNRWA’s officials were evacuated from Gaza via the Erez Crossing, despite the fact that the checkpoint was officially closed for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Ministry unit, which oversees the crossing, confirmed that a number of foreign employees from the agency “were evacuated from the Gaza Strip to Israel.”

Israel and the United States accuse UNRWA of helping to perpetuate the Palestinian narrative by manipulating the “right of return” and by artificially inflating the refugee number. In an op-ed published in The Algemeiner on August 28, Joshua S. Block, CEO & President of The Israel Project said that “UNRWA is creating a climate in which hatred and violence become legitimate political and ideological options for Palestinian children.”

On August 31, the U.S. ended all funding to UNRWA over a lack of reform. "The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation," said States Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert. The U.S. previously was the single largest donor to the agency, giving around $350 million per year.

UNRWA has also faced criticism from European states over its politicized agenda. In May, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis called UNRWA “part of the problem” in the Middle East and said the agency hindered the prospects of peace by fueling “unrealistic” hopes of Palestinians returning to their homes.

Eye on the Spine

Medtronic, an Irish-American medical device company, announced last Friday that it was purchasing Israel’s Mazor Robotics for a hefty $1.64 billion, the biggest exit ever for an Israeli biotech company. Mazor’s signature piece of technology, a robotic-assisted procedure, represents the future gold standard of spine surgery, which is now poised to be executed globally. Israeli innovations are improving the lives of millions of Americans and other people around the world, and this technology’s proven track record should encourage more American hospitals to adopt it.

Until about 15 years ago, spinal surgery was a lot like grasping in the dark. In order even to understand what procedure was necessary, doctors had to open up the spine. But a leading Israeli robotics professor, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic, developed a procedure that uses advanced artificial intelligence to help doctors perform previously unthinkable surgeries.

Moshe Shoham teaches at the Technion, the so-called MIT of Israel. In the late 1990s, Shoham began studying the spine because of its critical role in human mechanics, with the idea that the latest robotic technology could help doctors in the operating room. One of the first things he learned about spinal surgery is that it can be a nerve-racking experience not only for patients, but also for doctors, who often place large screws into small slots in the vertebrae by hand. If the doctor is slightly off, there is a high risk that the patient will be paralyzed for life. These types of procedures often require extensive tissue dissection and can result in blood loss and infection.

Yet Shoham believed that if a more accurate procedure could be developed, the probability of swift recovery would increase. While researching the issue, Shoham was shocked to discover that during about 2 to 3 percent of spinal surgeries, patients suffered nerve damage, which can result in weakness, muscle atrophy, twitching and paralysis. To his mind, that was unacceptably high.

In 2000, Shoham approached the Technion’s incubator – whose mission is to provide startups with operational support, management training and office space – and started a company, today known as Mazor Robotics. After four years of research and development, he began testing a robot capable of assisting surgeons in the operating room. He started with cadavers at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel and the Cleveland Clinic in the United States. Shoham and his team set out to prove their invention could reduce operating room time, minimize invasive surgeries, reduce the risk of infection and blood loss, and expedite recovery. The system wasn’t meant to replace surgeons, but to help them achieve a better result.


Click here to read full essay. 

IsraAID Sending Teams to North Carolina, Philippines, Indonesia in Wake of Natural Disasters

The Israeli humanitarian NGO, IsraAID, is sending volunteers to assist in the wake of the latest round of devastating natural disasters, in North Carolina, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

On September 30, IsraAID: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid sent a six-member emergency response team to North Carolina, where Hurricane Florence caused large-scale damage.

A second team of about six will fly out this week to help the local community in home recovery and debris removal, and assessing long-term needs as the area recovers.

According to IsraAID Co-Chief Executive Officer Yotam Polizer, IsraAID volunteers are working in collaboration with California-based Team Rubicon, which forms emergency response teams of military veterans paired with first-responders.

IsraAID also plans to coordinate additional volunteers from the Jewish communities across North America.

“We are focused on helping people go back to their homes ASAP through professional debris removal and minor resconstructions,” Polizer tells ISRAEL21c. “We will stay there as long as we’re needed during the relief phase. My estimation is three months but it could be more.”

At the same time, IsraAID has sent a team to the Philippines to aid victims of the typhoon and is planning to deploy to Indonesia in the next couple of days following the tsunami that has so far claimed 1,200 lives.

Founded in 2001, IsraAID has become renowned for its emergency response work. It was the first international team to reach Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake there. It has been present after disasters in Japan, South Sudan, the Philippines, and in the United States, such as the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, floods in Colorado, and a tornado in Arkansas.

(via Israel21c)

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