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Assad Orders Attacks on Israel to Distract From Role in Hariri Assassination


Heads of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups met with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad two weeks ago. According to a Voice of Israel report, the terror chiefs spoke with Assad about carrying out attacks on Israel.

The VOI report claims that the Syrian leader authorized the terrorists to carry out attacks, since they attract attention away from the investigation into Syria's connection with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Israel Widens Offensive Against Palestinian Terrorists

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has extended its five-day-old offensive in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, aimed at halting Palestinian rocket attacks. The violence is harming efforts to revive the peace process. IDF aircraft fired a barrage of missiles into Gaza, damaging several buildings, destroying a bridge, and knocking out electricity to thousands of Palestinians. The army also fired artillery shells for the first time, despite a pledge by Islamic militants to halt rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

In a new phase of the campaign, Israeli troops closed down 15 Islamic charities in the West Bank linked to local mosques. The military said the offices distributed money to the families of suicide bombers from two militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel said the offensive is part of a tough new policy of deterrence, in the wake of its pullout from Gaza earlier this month. Government spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said it is a message to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen. "If Abu Mazen wants to continue to survive and to continue to rule his people, he first has to rule the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. He has to dismantle the terrorist organizations."

The army stepped up raids in the West Bank after Hamas kidnapped and killed a 55-year-old Israeli man. Hamas released a video of the blindfolded hostage, pleading for his life and urging Israel to free Palestinian prisoners.

The violence is threatening the seven-month-old Mideast cease-fire, known in Arabic as the "hudna.' "The collapse of the cessation of violence and the 'hudna' will not serve the purpose and the interest of any side," said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had planned to meet with Abbas next week to discuss reviving the internationally backed "road map" peace plan. But because of the surge in violence, the summit was postponed.

US Urges Restraint Amid Violence in Gaza

By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)

The United States is making public and diplomatic appeals to Israel and the Palestinians to end the violence that has sent regional tensions soaring only weeks after Israel's Gaza withdrawal. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been involved in the contacts. The violence and political bitterness is hardly what U.S. officials had expected to follow the Gaza disengagement. And U.S. diplomats in both Washington and the region are involved in contacts aimed at restoring calm and dialogue between the sides.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Secretary Rice made telephone appeals to Israeli and Palestinian officials over the past weekend, and that they had been followed-up by other U.S. diplomatic contacts with the parties and other countries in the region. McCormack said while the United States welcomes recent statements by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas urging calm, it is also urging the Palestinian Authority to bring those responsible for rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza to justice, and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism.

He said the United States has always maintained that Israel has a right to defend itself, but has also urged the Israeli government to be mindful of the consequences its actions might have on long-term peace prospects. "We've been in touch with both sides concerning the recent actions surrounding Gaza," said McCormack. "We've underlined to both sides their responsibilities. And we have emphasized to the Israeli government that in taking whatever actions they take to defend themselves, that they consider the effect of those actions upon moving towards the goals that we know all parties share."

A senior U.S. official who spoke to reporters said the Palestinians must resolve what he termed the "fundamental conflict" posed by armed groups that want to play a part in the electoral process, yet also want to retain "an option for violence." He said the explosion of a rocket-laden truck during a parade by the radical Islamic group Hamas in Gaza last Saturday, which killed at least 15 people, is what he termed "Exhibit A" in the case against having armed groups operating outside the law.

Hamas blamed Israel for the explosion and used it as a pretext for firing rockets into Israel, even though Israeli officials denied responsibility and the Palestinian Authority said there was firm evidence the blast was accidental. Officials here confirmed, meanwhile, that Abbas will meet at the White House with President Bush October 20. Abbas told reporters Wednesday he would urge the president to press Israel to end military actions he said could collapse peace hopes. The two last met in Washington in May. Bush held talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon early this month, only days after the Gaza settlement evacuation was completed.

The senior U.S. official downplayed the significance of Wednesday's announcement that a Sharon-Abbas summit planned for Sunday was being postponed. He said when the parties hold a meeting at that level, there must be some confidence it will succeed and produce results. He said under the present circumstances the need for more time is understandable.

Amendment Would Send Draftees to Police Force


The police would be able to recruit a larger number of 18-year-old draftees and employ them in a much wider variety of tasks under a proposed amendment to the Security Service Law that would define the Israel Police, for the first time since it was established, as a body that engages in security operations and not only classic police work.

Thanks to a 1995 amendment to the law, the police are already able to employ a limited number of draftees. This year, for instance, 1,350 people - most of them women - did their compulsory service in the police rather than the army, on top of the 4,100 draftees who serve in the Border Police.

If the new amendment is approved, however, the figure is expected to jump to 2,055 next year, and could ultimately reach around 2,500 - though that would still be a drop in the bucket beside the tens of thousands of draftees who serve in the army. Moreover, some of the recruits would be able to engage in regular police work, which until now was largely not the case.

The change in the police's definition stems mainly from the changing nature of its mission. Once, its principal job was to catch criminals, while the Israel Defense Forces fought enemy armies. In recent years, however, both bodies have been engaged to a great extent in counter terrorism, so the distinction in their missions has blurred.

The proposed definition change is just one of the recommendations included in a report prepared by the National Security Council in conjunction with the planning directorates of both the IDF and the police. The report, whose goal was to study the possibility of assigning more draftees to the police, will be completed and submitted to the prime minister in the coming weeks.

The question at the heart of the NSC's work was whether, if there are more draftees than the army needs, the state has the right to divert this excess manpower to other tasks, or whether it should shorten compulsory army service instead. Its conclusion was that draftees are a resource that belongs to the nation, not the army, and therefore, it is proper to use them for other purposes. Next, the NSC had to resolve an argument between the police and the army over the quantity and quality of draftees that the police would be allowed to take. The police argued that with 5,000 high-quality draftees - young people in good physical condition, with high motivation and without spouses or children - beefing up the 28,000-person regular police force, it could significantly improve its service. For instance, it said, it could increase its presence on the roads by about 20 percent, up the number of incidents that police patrols handle by 10 to 15 percent and increase the number of undercover agents by 150 percent.

However, the IDF insisted that it could only spare an additional 300 draftees, and only people suitable for administrative tasks: It could not spare any high-quality recruits suitable for fieldwork. In the end, the NSC decided on a compromise: The traffic police would receive 1,500 draftees, in line with the recommendations of the Sheinin Committee's report on reducing traffic accidents, which was recently adopted by the cabinet, and the police would receive an additional 1,000 draftees to assist in its war on violence. However, to ease the burden on the army, the NSC is currently examining the possibility of allowing the police to hire additional policemen in lieu of some of these extra 1,000 draftees.

In addition, the IDF will have to give the police 30 recruits a year who are eligible for the academic deferment program, under which students first get a university degree and then do their compulsory service in their specialty. The police would use these recruits to bolster its intelligence and technology networks. These slots would be reserved for draftees who envision a future as senior police officers.

Israel Rescue Team Skirted Bureaucracy to Help Katrina Victims


An 18-member team of Israel police divers and medical personnel overcame bureaucratic hurdles to help victims of the Katrina hurricane floods. The American government initially rejected help from Israel and other countries, and Louisiana officials objected to Israeli doctors giving assistance without a license to practice medicine in the state.

Relief organization officials worked out an agreement whereby the doctors were allowed to enter with the purpose of helping members of the team if they needed medical help. They brought axes and generators with them but did not wear any clothes identifying their professions until they reached the devastated areas. Democratic Congressman Charles Melancon said the team "performed courageously in south Louisiana when we needed them most."

Sanhedrin Moves to Establish Council For Noahides


A council of non-Jewish observers of the Seven Laws of Noah has been selected and will be ordained by the reestablished Sanhedrin in Jerusalem this January. B'nai Noach, literally "Children of Noah," known as Noahides, are non-Jews who take upon themselves the Torah's obligations for non-Jews - consisting of seven laws passed on from Noah following the flood, as documented in Genesis.

Until now, Noahide communities and organization had been scattered around the globe, with a particular concentration centered on the southern United States. The communities themselves are a relatively recent phenomenon bolstered by the fact that the Internet has allowed individuals sharing Noahide beliefs to get in touch with one another.

The court of 71 rabbis, known as the Sanhedrin, which was reestablished last October in Tiberius following the reinstitution of rabbinic semikha, decided, after numerous requests from the Noahide community, to assist the movement in forming a leadership council. Rabbi Michael Bar-Ron, with the Sanhedrin's blessing, traveled to the United States to meet with representatives of the Noahide movement and select members for the High Council. Bar-Ron, an ordained student, talmid samukh, who currently sits on the Sanhedrin, is also one of the Sanhedrin's spokesmen.

The purpose of the council, which was the brainchild of Rabbi Avraham Toledano, is to assist the B'nei Noach in their struggle to observe the word of God. "The goal is to unify, serve and organize all kosher B'nei Noach communities of the world under a single body that can operate under the direct authority and supervision of the Sanhedrin," the decision to establish the body reads. "To form a vessel through which the Torah, from Zion (via the Sanhedrin) can effectively serve non-Jewish communities around the world."

The Seven Laws of Noah are:Shefichat damim - Do not murder; Gezel - Do not steal or kidnap; Avodah zarah - Do not worship false gods/idols; Gilui arayot - Do not be sexually immoral (engage in incest, sodomy, bestiality, castration and adultery); Birkat Hashem - Do not utter God's name in vain, curse God or pursue the occult.;Dinim - Set up righteous and honest courts and apply fair justice in judging offenders and uphold the principles of the last five; Ever Min HaChai - Do not eat a part of a live animal. For more information email the Sanhedrin's secretary at:

Letter to the Editor

By Kenneth Swerdlow

I totally disagree with the Sept. 27th article in which Ti Land said that evangelical Christians do not want land for peace deals. Yes, you can say I am a part of the 25% but if it is only 25% then 75% are screwed up.

Mr. Land seems to believe that the scriptures are saying that supporting the Majority (liberal) vote would be more of a "Jewish Blessing" than holding on to land that God promised to his people as a "permanent possession". This Baptist Press has it backwards. You curse Jews by giving away that which God wants. (Full possession of the land)- You bless the Jews by standing behind the scriptures and ensuring that the land remains in Jewish hands whether the liberal Jewish government agrees with it or not.

The Land of Israel is more than what its government says it is - the land is for eternity- not to be messed with- holy and pleasing to God. When Gaza was pulled away from Israel I sensed in my spirit that God was in tremendous pain. A piece of his heart was torn away. Not because a few settlements were destroyed or that people were displaced but because his precious land whom He gifted to his children was thrown back to the dogs. (Yes God loves those dogs too- but his plan was for his Jewish children , not Ishmael's.

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