Secretary of State John Kerry told the BBC on Tuesday that any moves to "open crossings and get food in and reconstruct and have greater freedom" in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip must be coupled "with a greater responsibility towards Israel, which means giving up rockets." Jerusalem and the Palestinian terror group have been engaged in a several-month hot war, which escalated dramatically several weeks ago when Hamas activated its offensive tunnel network and dispatched over a dozen commandos against a sparsely populated and lightly defended Israeli border community. Kerry's statement echoes comments by U.S. officials stretching back to the opening of the current round of hostilities, with Obama administration officials being explicit that disarming Hamas must be part of any Israeli draw-down or ceasefire. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had explicitly called for Hamas to be disarmed as long ago as last month. On Tuesday State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki was explicit that the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip is "certainly something we support." Hamas is estimated to still possess roughly 3,000 rockets that would have to be seized by a mediating authority, after the other two-thirds of the group's arsenal was either deployed or destroyed during Israel's Operation Protective Edge. Psaki has in recent days been pressed by reporters questioning the degree to which the State Department remains committed to fulfilling previous agreements committing both the Palestinian Authority and Washington to keeping illegal weapons of the kind possessed by Hamas out of Gaza. The Palestinian Authority is obligated by the Wye Accords to "establish and vigorously and continuously implement a systematic program for the collection and appropriate handling" of any weapons in the Gaza Strip except those permitted by the earlier 1995 Oslo II agreements [PDF], which quite pointedly exclude Hamas's arsenal. Hamas leaders continue to dismiss any suggestion that the group would consent to give up its rocket arsenal.
A revolutionary new electronic chip with nano-sized chemical sensors is about to change the way security forces worldwide safeguard airports and other public areas against terrorist attacks. The Israeli-designed nanotechnology-inspired sensor, devised by Prof. Fernando Patolsky of Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and developed by the Herzliya company Tracense, picks up the scent of explosives molecules better than a detection dog’s nose. Research on the sensor was recently published in the journal Nature Communications. Existing explosives sensors are expensive, bulky and require expert interpretation of the findings. In contrast, the new sensor is mobile, inexpensive, and identifies in real time — and with great accuracy — explosives in the air at concentrations as low as a few molecules per 1,000 trillion. “Using a single tiny chip that consists of hundreds of supersensitive sensors, we can detect ultra low traces of extremely volatile explosives in air samples, and clearly fingerprint and differentiate them from other non-hazardous materials,” said Prof. Patolsky, a top researcher in the field of nanotechnology. “In real time, it detects small molecular species in air down to concentrations of parts-per-quadrillion, which is four to five orders of magnitude more sensitive than any existing technological method, and two to three orders of magnitude more sensitive than a dog’s nose. “This chip can also detect improvised explosives, such as TATP (triacetone triperoxide), used in suicide bombing attacks in Israel and abroad,” Prof. Patolsky said. The clusters of nano-sized transistors used in the prototype are extremely sensitive to chemicals, which cause changes in the electrical conductance of the sensors upon surface contact. When just a single molecule of an explosive comes into contact with the sensors, it binds with them, triggering a rapid and accurate mathematical analysis of the material. “Automatic sensing systems are superior candidates to dogs, working at least as well or better than nature. This is not an easy task, but was achieved through the development of novel technologies such as our sensor,” said Prof. Patolsky. The trace detector, still in prototype, identifies several different types of explosives several meters from the source in real time. It has been tested on the explosives TNT, RDX, and HMX, used in commercial blasting and military applications, as well as peroxide-based explosives like TATP and HMTD. “Our breakthrough has the potential to change the way hazardous materials are detected, and of course should provide populations with more security,” said Prof. Patolsky. “The faster, more sensitive detection of tiny amounts of explosives in the air will provide for a better and safer world.” (via Israel21c)
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