The Associated Press reported on Friday that evidence disclosed since the end of this summer's war between Israel and Hamas indicated that the Palestinian terror group had deliberately used civilians as human shields while launching rockets at Israeli civilians, and that even Hamas officials now admitted they had embraced the tactic. The wire bluntly noted that "discussion is not about whether the Hamas rockets were fired from civilian areas, but exactly how close they were to the actual buildings." Hamas officials cited by the AP defended their use of human shields by asserting that the population density of the Gaza Strip gave them little choice except to operate around civilians, a practiced codified as a war crime by the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Geneva Conventions. Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad was specifically quoted declaring that "Gaza, from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah in the south, is one uninterrupted urban chain." The claim is false. A short study by Alan Dershowitz titled "The empty spaces in Gaza," published last month by the Gatestone Institute, noted that "there are dense parts of Gaza, especially Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis, but there are far less dense areas in Gaza between these cities." Dershowitz pointed to population density maps to emphasize that Hamas had embraced a "strategy of using human shields to maximize civilian casualties," and questioned why there had not been more media coverage of the "areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to." Hamas's admission that it utilized civilian infrastructure for military purposes may prove awkward for journalists, analysts, and advocates who during the war denied that the Palestinian group was using human shields. BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen published in July that, though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that civilian casualties were the result of Hamas's decision to put them in the line of fire, he personally had seen "no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields." The claim was conveyed on Twitter by Ken Roth, the longtime executive director of Human Rights Watch.
Foamix Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli biotech developing topical foam treatments for a range of dermatological treatments, has announced terms for its IPO. The Rehovot-based company plans to raise $65 million, according to a press release from IPO investment firm Renaissance Capital. Foamix is set to enter Phase III trials for its lead candidate, a 4% minocycline foam formulation acne treatment, in 2015. It is also targeting 2015 to begin Phase 3 trials for its treatment of impetigo, a bacterial skin infection that primarily affects young children. The company expects to develop both candidates through the FDA’s 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway for faster approval. “Foam is a much better treatment method for children, who are usually very sensitive to having creams and ointments rubbed into their skin. They are not readily agreeable to treatment mechanisms like these because they find them painful. Now, because Foamix foams dissolve and absorb into the skin immediately upon application, they don’t sting or hurt,” founder Dr. Dov Tamarkin told ISRAEL21c in an earlier interview. Foamix has entered licensing agreements with Bayer, Merz and Actavis for its foam technology, and has received about $15 million from these partners to date, according to the press release. The company is owned primarily by management and Israel-based private investors. (via Israel21c)
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