Senior Iranian officials, including a top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday boasted that Tehran had supplied Hamas with military aid to use against Israel. The comments, conveyed by the officials on Arabic-language television, are the latest in a series of provocative comments from Iranian officials, who have increasingly vocalized the Islamic republic’s support for Hamas over the course of Operation Protective Edge. Last month Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told state-run television that Tehran provided Gaza’s jihadist groups with “arms manufacture know-how.” Khamenei last month, speaking at the end of the Ramadan holiday, called for “punishment” for the “evil, filthy and merciless Zionist regime.” The Wall Street Journal on Sunday noted that relations between the terror group that controls Gaza and the Islamic republic, which in recent years had become strained, had recently warmed, “particularly in response to the nearly one-month-old Gaza conflict, according to Hamas and Iranian officials.” The escalation was seen by some observers as an effort by Hamas to get back into Iran’s good graces – the Weekly Standard last week noted that “Iran is not in fact driving the campaign, then Hamas may be putting on a demonstration for Tehran of how helpful it can be to the Islamic Republic.” Iran has also provided constant support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which the Journal described as “almost solely a creation of Iran and the Revolutionary Guard” and which has long relied on the Islamic republic for advanced training and materials.
As the most severe Ebola epidemic on record spreads through central Africa, infecting and killing hundreds of citizens and foreign aid workers, and raising the specter of outbreaks all over the world, an Israeli research team is working with survivors to develop antibodies against the lethal virus. Dr. Leslie Lobel tells ISRAEL21c that he and fellow principal investigator Dr. Victoria Yavelsky have spent many years studying native immunity to Ebola and another equally lethal Equatorial African virus, Marburg, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Center for Emerging Diseases, Tropical Diseases and AIDS. Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever, is one of the deadliest viruses in the world. It kills up to 90 percent of its victims, while Marburg, another hemorrhagic fever, kills up to 88%. Ebola can be spread through sweat and saliva and there is no vaccine or cure. In the latest outbreak, the worst ever, more than 670 people have died, including Americans. “Currently we’ve tracked all Ebola and Marburg virus survivors in Uganda, studied their immune responses to these viruses and identified survivors with a strong immune response,” he says. “We take blood samples from them and isolate monoclonal antibodies that neutralize the virus in our lab here at Ben-Gurion.” Yavelsky and Lobel’s therapeutic approach was proven as a successful potential treatment by their colleagues in the US military, and at several other laboratories. This approach is regarded as the most promising way to prevent Ebola and Marburg, and it could be available within five years. Lobel travels to Africa about five times a year. “We have set up a base laboratory in Entebbe, with our Ugandan colleagues, so that we can process human blood samples in under 12 hours from the time of collection, which is required for our work. After the samples are tested and deemed to be non-infectious, we ship them to Israel and our team here develops antibodies from the samples,” Lobel says. With funding from the US National Institutes of Health and other resources, Lobel’s lab is now getting ready to test its human monoclonal antibodies in mice and non-human primates. This will be performed abroad because no live virus research is permitted in Israel. (via Israel21c)
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