- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ISRAEL

Commander fired for fuel depot attack

JERUSALEM — An Israeli officer was “dishonorably discharged” from the army yesterday for failing to respond swiftly to an attack on a fuel terminal by Gaza militants that left two civilians dead, an army spokeswoman said.

An army investigation revealed that Lt. Col. Yair Baranes, whose unit was stationed near the Nahal Oz fuel depot on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, “did not properly comport himself as an Israeli officer.”

The inquiry faulted his unit for failing to respond quickly enough when Gaza militants, under cover of heavy mortar bombardment, stormed the terminal and killed two Israeli employees on April 9.

Col. Baranes had already been relieved of his command earlier in the day.

IRAN

Rally demands release of students

TEHRAN — Dozens of young Iranians chanted anti-government slogans at a rally yesterday demanding the release of three fellow students jailed for up to three years on charges including insulting Iran’s supreme leader.

Carrying pictures of the three men and waving banners, the protesters marched slowly and peacefully on the campus of Amir Kabir University, which has a history of student activism.

Ahmad Ghassaban, Majid Tavakkoli and Ehsan Mansouri were sentenced in October for acting against national security as well as insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, their attorneys told Reuters news agency in December.

The students said the publications were forged and that they had no role in producing them.

AFGHANISTAN

World’s oldest oil paintings found

KABUL — Scientists said yesterday they have proved the world’s first ever oil paintings were in caves near two destroyed giant statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, hundreds of years before oil paint was used in Europe.

Samples from paintings, dating from the seventh century, were taken from caves behind two statues of Buddha in Bamiyan blown up as un-Islamic by Afghanistan’s hard-line Taliban in 2001.

Scientists discovered paintings in 12 of the 50 caves were created using oil paints, possibly from walnut or poppy, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France said on its Web site.

It was not until the 13th century that oil was added to paints in Europe and oil paint was not widely used in Europe till the early 15th century.

Bamiyan was once a thriving Buddhist center where monks lived in a series of caves carved into the cliffs near the two statues.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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