Newsletter : 4fax0726.txt
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Tourists Flock to Israel
Tourism to Israel continues to rise. From January to June of this year, close to
674,000 tourists visited the country - a whopping jump of 66% over the same period last
year. While almost 85% of these arrived by air to Ben Gurion International Airport,
another 25,800 arrived by air directly to the southern resort city of Eilat - more than
twice as many as during the same period last year. Similarly, the 74,700 who arrived by
land also doubled themselves. The month of June was particularly blessed for Israeli
tourism, with the entry of 121,600 tourists - 37% more than in June 2003.
Human Chain Stretches 56 miles to Protest Sharon's Disengagement Plan
By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faces more challenges to his plan to form a new government
and push through his disengagement plan from Palestinian areas as Jewish settlers Sunday
formed a human chain from Gaza to Jerusalem to protest the plan.
Thousands of Israelis came out in force to rally public support against Sharon's plan to
dismantle all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank by the end of
Between 130,000, according to the police, and 200,00, reported by Israel Channel 2
Television turned out to form the human chain between Jewish settlements in southern Gaza
and Jerusalem to symbolize that Gaza is connected to Israel and should not be abandoned.
Among those who took part were the speaker of the Israeli parliament, Reuven Rivlin, a
member of Sharon's Likud Party, and more than two dozen other members of parliament from
various right-wing factions.
They linked arms to form a 56-mile continuous human chain from the northern Gaza
community of Nisanit to the Kotel - the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, Judaism's
holiest site. The chain was the third largest such event in world political history.
The public show of opposition came as the prime minister attempted to forge a new
national unity government to ensure the parliamentary approval of his disengagement plan.
Sharon's Cabinet endorsed the plan earlier this year, but some ministers resigned in
protest, and the prime minister lost his parliamentary majority. Despite opposition from
within his own party, Sharon wants to rebuild his coalition with the participation of the
Labor Party, which supports his plan.
"Nothing can break this chain because it is reinforced with the faith and unity of the
Nation of Israel," marveled Al Nachom, a participant who came all the way from California
together with tens of others to take part in the 'human chain' stretching from Gush Katif
to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
At 6:45 p.m. the thousands of participants clasped one another's hands and prepared for
the singing of 'Hatikva' - 'The Hope', Israel's national anthem. And at 7 p.m., ram's
horns were blown at some points in the chain and the words of Hatikva echoed across the
On one end of the chain were Yitzchak and Shlomit Shamir, residents of the original
pre-state Kfar Darom community in the 1940's - a reminder that Jewish settlement in Gaza
began long before the liberation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 1967. The Shamirs'
granddaughter, 6-year-old Yael Better, who is now a resident of N'vei Dekalim, completed
the chain - slipping a note into Western Wall on which was written a prayer asking the
Creator to nullify the decree of expulsion of Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel.
Also at the Kotel were bereaved father and husband David Hatuel, whose pregnant wife
and four daughters were murdered in their car in Gush Katif the day of the Likud
referendum a few months ago. Hatuel told reporters that he was overwhelmed by the
magnitude of the event. "Sadly, I came alone," said Hatuel, "but the connection I felt
from everyone here on erev Tisha B'Av (the 9th of the Jewish month of Av, a fast day
mourning the destruction of the Temple -ed.] is quite amazing. This will broadcast to
everyone that we have the will to continue to pursue our lives in all parts of the land of
INN correspondent Ezra HaLevi stood beside the Old City in Jerusalem, at Kikar Tzahal -
IDF Square - and described the scene on Israel National Radio's live broadcast of the
event: "I'm looking at more than a single-file human chain here," said HaLevi, "there are
enough people here to make 10 parallel chains. The atmosphere is one of exuberance.
Everybody I talk too is just overjoyed that there are others - thousands of others - who,
like them, refuse to believe that a retreat from Gush Katif is 'inevitable' or 'a done
deal.' Every person I interview has the same underlying message: 'The Nation of Israel is
proud and strong and willing to stand up for what is good and right despite the weakness
of our elected leadership.'"
Israeli Minister Warns Jewish Extremists Planning Terror Attack on Jerusalem
By VOA News, IsraelNationalNews.com & Ha'aretz
Israel's Security Minister has warned that right-wing Jews are intending to attack the
Temple Mount, the most religiously sensitive site in the Middle East. The area is home to
Islam's third holiest shrine and observers fear any harm to the area could provoke a new
war in the region.
Internal Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said that there is a growing desire among
Jewish extremist groups to launch a terror attack on the Temple Mount. He said the aim of
such an attack would be to stop plans by the government to dismantle all Jewish
settlements in the Gaza Strip and four more in the West Bank by September next year.
Observers said that any politically motivated destruction of the shrine could have even
more far reaching consequences, bringing the wrath of the entire Muslim world down upon
The Temple Mount is located in Jerusalem's walled Old City. It was the site of the
Jewish Temples in biblical times making it the holiest place in the Jewish world. For
centuries it has also been the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosques, and
is regarded as the third most sacred shrine in the Islamic world, after Mecca and Medina
in Saudi Arabia.
Hanegbi's warning that the site may come under attack follows warnings from the head of
Israel's secret police who claimed up to 200 right wing Jews wanted to see the Prime
Minister, Ariel Sharon killed. Shin Bet chief, Avi Dichter, said that most of these
individuals live in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Mr. Sharon
has slated for evacuation. The warnings have prompted calls by Israeli lawmakers for
police to immediately arrest and interrogate Jewish extremists suspected of planning
The PA-appointed Jerusalem Mufti, Sheik Akram Sabri used the warning issued by Hanegbi
to warn Muslims that Israel would use the threats of an attack to launch an incursion onto
the Mount and troops will position themselves in areas that are deemed offensive by the
Muslim Wakf Authority. PA Minister Kadur Affaris added to Sabri's statements, and called
on the international community to "eliminate the threat" and act before Israel violates
Likud Knesset member Ehud Yatom, who as a former Shin Bet official was one of the
commanders of the operation to seize the members of the "Jewish Underground" terror group,
said Sunday that the group was "very close" to carrying out a planned multiple bombing
against Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount in 1984. Yatom was also responding to
Security sources have said possible actions included an attempt to crash a drone packed
with explosives on the Temple Mount, or a manned suicide attack with a light aircraft
during mass Muslim worship on the Mount. Other possibilities include an attempt by
right-wing extremists to assassinate a prominent Temple Mount Muslim leader, perhaps from
the Waqf Islamic trust.
Yatom, speaking on Army Radio of the Jewish Underground of the 1980s, said, "We were
very close, close as touching blood, to a most serious terrorist bombing, as members of
the Underground planted five bombs in five buses, which were then to convey innocent
civilians and tourists. We were close, very close, to a situation in which people with
truly distorted, wicked minds, tried to strike a place very sacred to Muslims on the
Had an attack succeeded 20 years ago or in the current period, the effect would have
been similar, and "horrible, terrible," he said. "It would have meant the entire Muslim
world against the state of Israel and against the Western world, a war of religions,"
Yatom said. "With all of their pain and suffering, today's terrorist attacks would be
nothing compared to what could happen - even World War III."
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