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The Daily TIP: U.S. Officials Blast PA Leadership for Silence Following Fatal Terror Attack

Posted by Tip Staff - July 27, 2018

U.S. Officials Blast PA Leadership for Silence Following Fatal Terror Attack
Moody's Raises Outlook for Israel's Economy
U.S. Cybersecurity Firm Identifies Iranian Hacking Group Breaking into Middle East Networks
Israeli Study Finds Drug Combination Could Be More Effective in Fighting Lung Cancer

U.S. Officials Blast PA Leadership for Silence Following Fatal Terror Attack

Two United States officials blasted the Palestinian Authority's leadership for failing to condemn terror, following a fatal terror attack that left a 31-year-old father of two dead, and two others injured.

Jason Greenblatt, the Trump administration's Special Representative for International Negotiations, called the terror attack in the West Bank community of Adam "barbaric," and asked, "When will President Abbas and Palestinian leaders condemn the violence?"

The U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman wrote, "My heartfelt prayers for all the families. All life is sacred, but premeditated murder cries out for condemnation. Not hearing it from Palestinian leadership."

The attack occurred Thursday at about 9 P.M. when 17-year-old Mohammad Tareq Yousef climbed over the fence into the community of Adam. He encountered Yotam Ovadia and stabbed him repeatedly in the upper body killing him. A second man who encountered Yousef was stabbed and is hospitalized in moderate condition.

Adam resident, Assaf Raviv, heard noise. When he realized that it was a terror attack, he shot Yousef three times killing him. Raviv suffered minor injuries during the encounter but was released from the hospital after a short stay.

The terror attack in Adam occurred a day after a Fatah official, Osama Qawassmeh, claimed that a stone which fell from the Western Wall onto the plaza below was a sign that Israel was planning to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.

Moody's Raises Outlook for Israel's Economy

A leading international rating agency has raised its rating outlook for the economy of Israel from “stable” to “positive”, despite the volatile security situation in the region. The rating for now remains unchanged, however, with an upgrade in outlook Israel’s rating could be upgraded in the next 12-18 months for the first time since 2008.

Globes reported on Sunday that Moody's Investors Service upgraded Israel’s status, following a similar assessment from Standard & Poor's (S&P) last year. Israel's current rating is A1. If the prognosis results in an upgrade, the rating will rise to Aa-.

Israel’s Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon hailed the news as “further evidence of the strength and stability of the Israeli economy. All the data indicate that the economic policy that we are pursuing, including a free and responsible economy alongside strengthening the middle class and poorer sections of society, is the right way."

Moody’s named two reasons for the upgrade: fiscal discipline and strong economic growth.

“Israel is one of only a handful of advanced economies (including Norway, Switzerland and Singapore, which are all rated Aaa with a stable outlook) with a lower debt to GDP ratio today than before the global financial crisis,” the agency said. Moody’s added that Israel’s annual budget deficits have remained below 3% of GDP over the past four years.

Another driver for the decision to upgrade the Jewish State, the agency said was "Continued healthy growth and current account surpluses in the face of persistent geopolitical tensions.”

U.S. Cybersecurity Firm Identifies Iranian Hacking Group Breaking into Middle East Networks

A United States cybersecurity firm has identified a "highly active" group of hackers reportedly based in Iran, who are attacking corporate and government networks across the Middle East, The Hill reported Wednesday.

A report issued by Symantec said that the hacking collective, which has been dubbed "Leafminer," has attacked networks in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Eqypt, Israel and Afghanistan.

Leafminer's targets, according to The Hill, include the "energy, telecommunications, financial services, transportation and government" sectors.

According to Vikram Thakur, technical director at Symantec, Leafminer appears to have begun operations in 2017, but has increased its activity since the end of last year and is "continuing to conduct attacks as of right now.”

Symantec's researchers found a list with approximately 800 target organizations written in Farsi. While all the groups in the list have some connection to Iran, Iran is not itself on the list. “From an analytics perspective, that just adds to the fact that they’re likely to be from Iran," Thakur observed.

Analysts say that Leafminer seems particularly interested in hacking into e-mails "to harvest communications and other data, likely for espionage purposes."

Currently the group's tactics do not appear to be very sophisticated, however, Thakur believes that they may have expanded the scope of their operations and targeted Western countries.

In December of last year, a report released by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, characterized Iranian hacking attempts as a “coordinated, probably military, endeavor.”

Israeli Study Finds Drug Combination Could Be More Effective in Fighting Lung Cancer

New-generation lung cancer drugs can be very effective, but within about a year the patients tend to develop resistance to the therapy.

Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science led a study using a new combination of existing drugs to help crush potential resistance to the treatment in mice.

Their findings were published recently in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

The study focused on a subtype of lung cancer caused by a mutation in a gene called EGFR, responsible for about 12 percent of cases.

Patients with the EGFR mutation can be helped by kinase inhibitors, which block the mutation, preventing EGFR from generating a signal for uncontrolled division. These drugs work much better than chemotherapy, but within 10 to 14 months many patients develop a secondary mutation in the EGFR causing their tumors to reappear.

In 2015, a new kinase inhibitor, Tagrisso, was approved to block this second mutation. However, within 10 to 14 months a third mutation or other alterations emerge in the EGFR gene, causing another relapse.

“This of course is a nightmare for the patients, their families and the doctors,” said Prof. Yosef Yarden of the Weizmann Biological Regulation Department. “We’ve now developed a new approach that works in mice and may help relieve this frustrating situation if our method proves to work in humans.”

In collaboration with physicians from the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Yarden’s team gave Tagrisso, along with a drug that blocks the EGFR on the cell surface and a drug that blocks the HER2 receptor, to mice implanted with human lung cancer cells.

This triple combination therapy caused the mouse tumors to shrink substantially. The tumors did not regrow as long as the mice received the treatment.

“If confirmed in humans, the new combination therapy may help extend the lives of many thousands of lung cancer patients who currently develop resistance to kinase inhibitors,” Yarden said.

(via Israel21c)

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