Jerusalem – Montreal-based Middle East NewsLine has confirmed that Egypt has launched a tender for its first nuclear reactor.

The Egyptian Electricity Ministry intends to call for bids for the country’s first nuclear energy reactor in February.

“The nuclear energy agency will in February launch an international tender for offers to build Egypt’s first nuclear reactor worth $1.5-1.8 billion,” Egypt’s state-owned news agency, the Middle East News Agency, announced on Saturday.

The Egyptian Electricity Ministry has drafted plans for the construction of up to 11 nuclear energy reactors by 2020. Most of the reactors would have a capacity to generate up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

President Hosni Mubarak has been discussing a nuclear energy program with China, France, Russia and the United States.

Egypt has pledged to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to supervise the project.

IAEA reported that Egypt has been conducting nuclear experiments since the late 1960s. The agency said some of the experiments were not reported.

“The type of reactor and its constructor will be chosen according to international safety standards and reputation as well as costs,” Abdu Mohsen Morsi Metwalli, director of nuclear engineering at Alexandria University, said.

Palestinians To Protest Israeli Fences

This week, Hamas is expected to bring thousands of Palestinians to march on the fences on the Israeli border.

What, if anything, the IDF will do is anyone’s guess.

The orders currently held by the IDF Southern Command only deal with dispersing disturbances near the fence: If several dozen demonstrators, stone throwers and rioters come within 300 meters of the border, the soldiers have orders to fire in the air, then at the knees. Only if their lives are in danger are they permitted to shoot to kill.

The IDF Southern Command has raised the state of alert along the border, from Gaza to Eilat, in order to prevent the infiltration of terrorists.

According to military sources, the Gaza Strip is being infiltrated more freely than ever before by hostile forces such as Iranians, al-Qaida members and Iraqi refugees.

Israeli Officials Concerned That Hamas Could Obtain Advanced Weapons

Israeli officials fear that the collapse of the Gaza/Egyptian border will lead to the import of large quantities of weapons such as advanced anti-aircraft missiles. “This is a new security reality,” said a security official over the weekend. “It is a strategic problem with far-reaching consequences.”

Since Hamas broke through the Gaza/Egyptian fence, the “tunnel era” has ended.

Israeli officials believe that large quantities of weaponry, mainly anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, have already been brought into Gaza.

According to Hamas sources, in the past three days, a large number of assault rifles, ammunition and 0.5-inch machine guns have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip and have already been used to fire at Israeli helicopters.

According to Egyptian estimates, 750,000 Palestinians have already passed through the makeshift border crossings.

Dozens of trucks bearing food, consumer goods, gasoline and diesel passed in the opposite direction from Egypt to Gaza.

Signs That Hezbollah Has Returned To Southern Lebanon

At a time that the achievements of the Second Lebanon War are at the focus of the Israeli public discourse, the signs are increasing that Hezbollah has renewed its activity in southern Lebanon, including south of the Litani River. This was evident from meetings that Defense Minister Ehud Barak held last week with leaders of the French security establishment.

Mr. Barak presented the French with Israel’s request that UNIFIL – in which France has a leading role – step up the enforcement meant to prevent a Hezbollah presence in southern Lebanon in general and close to the border with Israel in particular.

Hezbollah’s ostensible removal from the border area was considered the sole achievement of the Second Lebanon War.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, passed at the end of the war in August 2006, forbade Hezbollah from locating south of the Litani River. UNIFIL forces were reinforced in the area following the end of the war to deter any such movement.

Hezbollah constructed a new line of outposts north of the Litani River and increased its presence on the northern side of the river. South of Litani River, on the other hand, Hezbollah made do with low profile activity.

Beyond Mr. Barak’s request of the French security establishment leaders to increase UNIFIL enforcement, the Lebanese issue also came up in the strategic dialogue that Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz held last week with senior officials of the U.S. State Department

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.