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Newsletter : 3fax0611.txt

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Lost Tribe Immigrates To Israel


Thirty members of the Bnei Menashe, a group claiming descent from the lost tribe of Menashe, arrived in Israel Tuesday from India. Some 750 Bnei Menashe already reside in Israel, including 50 new immigrants who arrived last week. There are approximately an additional 5,000 Bnei Menashe still living a fully Jewish life in northeastern India. Tuesday's arrivals will join last week's immigrants in studying Hebrew and Judaism in the town of Shavei Shomron. They will eventually undergo formal conversion by the Chief Rabbinate.

Hamas Vows Retaliation for Assassination Attempt on Leader

By VOA News

Hamas has vowed to launch a wave of attacks in revenge for the attempted assassination by Israel of one of its leaders in the Gaza Strip. Two bystanders, one an eight-year-old girl, were killed and 27 others wounded in a barrage of rockets from an Israeli military helicopter.

Hamas leader Abdel Aziz-Rantissi, wounded in the attempted assassination, vowed that his organization would continue to launch violent attacks. He spoke from his hospital bed in Gaza City after surviving a missile strike. At the same time, the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, promised that Israeli civilians would be targeted. "Israel is targeting Palestinian civilians, so Israeli civilians should be targeted."

Rantissi said that George Bush is "the biggest terrorist of all" for encouraging Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He also said that Hamas would keep fighting until all Israelis leave the region.

Bush's spokesman, on the other hand, turned the other cheek and criticized Israel. He said that Bush was "deeply concerned" by the attack, feels that it "undermines the Palestinians' ability to fight terrorism," and "does not improve Israel's security."

"Of course Israel has the right to defend itself," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, but it must be "consistent with broader objectives" such as implementing the road map. President Bush was fairly tolerant of the Hamas murderous attack on four Israeli soldiers on Sunday, dismissing it as the work of "Palestinian extremists."

Government sources said that Israel would continue to fight the terrorists until the PA fulfills its promises to do so. Israel's Government Press Office released a statement Tuesday afternoon calling Rantissi "among the most extremist leaders of the criminal Hamas organization in Gaza. He has preached and directed murder, sabotage, terror and incitement for many years."

The statement said that Rantissi had stepped up his murderous activities, both openly and covertly, "in order to wreck the process begun at Aqaba" - and that these included partial responsibility for the murderous attack that killed four soldiers at Erez Checkpoint two days ago. Because the Palestinian Authority is taking no action to stop his criminal activities, Israel is "compelled to protect its citizens and try to halt this arch-terrorist's murderous actions, the danger of which is increasing."

The IDF Spokesman said that the Hamas leadership "has made a strategic decision to undermine the road map and ruin any chance of dialogue that could lead to a ceasefire and political negotiations." The prepared statement further stated that Hamas has "declared its intention to carry out suicide attacks in order to undermine the political process." Since 1993, Hamas has sent out 113 suicide bombers, 72 of them in the past 33 months. As a result of these suicide attacks, 227 Israelis were killed and 1,393 were wounded.

Hamas said it was already planning more retaliation against Israel - and in fact a volley of six mortar shells hit the Negev city of Sderot late Tuesday afternoon; one woman was treated for shock.

The Palestinian Authority said that the attempt on Rantissi's life was meant to torpedo the road map plan. "We will carefully study the matter and will take the appropriate measures," threatened PA official Nabil Amr, while Yasser Abed Rabbo said that the attack is "effectively an attack against the Road Map," aiming to sabotage PA efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

The Victims of Arab Terror International Organization (VAT) announced its strong support of what it called Israel's belated action to eliminate Rantissi, "whose constant incitement and encouragement of murderous attacks have resulted in the death of countless Jews within and without the Jewish state." VAT Founder Shifra Hoffman called upon Sharon "to continue to target the leaders of all Arab terror factions, including chief PLO terrorist Yasir Arafat."

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Israeli military operation against Rantissi. He branded it a criminal and terrorist Israeli attack that amounted to an attempted sabotage of peace efforts in the Middle East. On Friday, Hamas called off planned talks with Abbas on a possible agreement to suspend armed attacks against Israel.

Hamas frequently carries out suicide bombings and other terror attacks against Israel. But Abbas has appealed to Hamas and other groups to halt such attacks, to give a chance for negotiations with Israel to succeed. At the same time, he has ruled out using force against militant groups, saying this would risk dragging Palestinian society into a civil war.

President Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by Israel's attempt to kill a top official of Hamas. Administration officials are discussing Tuesday's attacks with both Israeli and Palestinian diplomats.

White House spokesman Fleischer said, "The president regrets deeply the loss of life and the injuries to innocent Palestinians. The president is concerned that the strike will undermine efforts by the Palestinian authorities and others to bring an end to terrorist attacks, and the president thinks that this action does not contribute to Israel's security."

To express what he called "this strong sentiment," Fleischer said the president directed his national security team to carry that message to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a series of wide-ranging telephone diplomacy, including calls from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Fleischer said President Bush stands by Israel's right to self-defense but believes Israel must act on that right "in a manner that is consistent with larger objectives."

"Neither party can afford to take actions that derail the road map because it is too important to the peace and security and the well-being of the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. And that's why the president finds this deeply troubling."

Fleischer said Bush remains optimistic that there can be peace in the Middle East if both sides commit to the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace.

"What alternatives do the Israeli and the Palestinians have other than to pursue the road map and to pursue peace because the alternative is surely one the president believes they will reject which is continued killing?" Fleischer said.

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