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Post-Passover Mimouna Celebrations Underway

By IsraelNationalNews.com

U.S Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) was the guest of honor Wednesday night at a large, public Mimouna festival celebration in Jerusalem. Lieberman, an observant Jew, has been visiting Israel for Passover. Mimouna is a Jewish post-Passover celebratory tradition brought to Israel by immigrants from North Africa. It begins with a festive meal, with families gathering together to enjoy singing, traditional foods and spiritual nourishment for the coming months. The Mimouna marks the hope and belief that just as the Jewish People were redeemed on Passover, so too they would merit the Final Redemption "speedily in our days."


28 Remain Hospitalized After Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing

By Ha'aretz

Twenty-eight people who were injured in Monday's suicide bombing are still hospitalized in the Dan region, two of them severely injured and still fighting for their lives. Three of the patients are badly injured, eight are moderately injured and the rest are lightly injured.

In Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, 17 people are hospitalized, including the two who are very severely injured, one with head and limb injuries. The other is a 16-year-old tourist from the United States. Three others are in serious condition and eight in moderate condition.

Nine patients are in Holon's Wolfson Hospital, three of them in serious condition and six in moderate condition. Five patients who were brought to Petah Tikva's Beilinson Hospital were lightly injured and have been released.

The IDF rounded up 41 Palestinians in the West Bank over the Pesach holiday. The custody of three Palestinians was remanded Tuesday. They were arrested at the Harel intersection on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road a few hours after the bombing, on suspicion of helping the terrorist reach his destination.

Among those arrested are 13 Hebron residents, who are identified with Hamas. Two Hamas-affiliated units have been found in Hebron recently. A man suspected of belonging to Fatah and planning a suicide bombing and two youngsters suspected of agreeing to carry out a suicide bombing have also been arrested.

The IDF is involved in two large operations in the Jenin and Nablus area and now plans on expanding them following the suicide bombing.

On Tuesday soldiers clashed with youths who threw stones and fire bombs at them in Nablus. In one of the clashes Palestinians fired at the soldiers. Palestinian sources reported seven men wounded--some from gunfire and others from rubber bullets.

Three Kassam rockets were fired in the last few days from the northern Gaza Strip. Two rockets landed in open fields in the Negev. The third landed in Palestinian Authority territory. Nobody was hurt.


Hamas Denies Jordan Claim of Weapons Smuggling

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Hamas officials are denying allegations that their militants have smuggled weapons into Jordan. The surprise charges have prompted Jordan to cancel a visit by the Palestinian foreign minister. Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his group has no intention of interfering in other countries, insisting that its only battle is against Israeli occupation.

Jordanian officials said they seized a cache of missiles, explosives and automatic weapons smuggled into their country by Hamas terrorists. Jordan subsequently canceled a visit to the country by Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar.

Hamas officials have denounced that decision and the Director-General of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Mohammed Awad said it came as a total surprise. Speaking on Palestinian radio, Awad said the government is shocked by the Jordanian allegations and decision to cancel the visit. He said the government wants good relations with all Arab countries, especially neighboring Jordan and Egypt. He called for backing away from heated rhetoric and for calming down.

Jordan is one of two Arab nations to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. The kingdom keeps a wary eye on its own Islamic groups as well as on any potential influence from Islamists outside.

The Jordanian allegations and Amman's decision to cancel the Zahar visit comes as yet another blow to an increasingly isolated Hamas-led government that is facing financial collapse and growing internal unrest, as well as external pressure.

Israel, the United States and the European Union have labeled Hamas a terrorist organization and have cut off direct aid until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel. Israel has halted the transfer of tax and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

Hamas has refused to meet those demands and, although some Hamas officials continue to hint at a readiness for compromise, the organization's defense of Monday's suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv has brought it only more harsh criticism.


Rabbi Ariel: Paschal Sacrifice is Still Obligatory

By IsraelNationalNews.com

"It's not a question of 'maybe' or 'if,' said Ramat Gan's Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel."Bringing the Paschal sacrifice is a Torah obligation incumbent upon the People of Israel these very days."

Speaking with the weekly B'Sheva newspaper, Ariel said that though there are some grave Halakhic [Jewish legal] problems associated with bringing the Paschal sacrifice, "we have found the solutions, and the obligation is as strong as ever. This is [one of the only two positive biblical commandments] that those who forsake it are liable to receive the ultimate karet [cutting off] punishment. From the moment that a Jew stands on the Temple Mount and the site of the Holy Temple is under our control, the Jewish People are immediately obligated to bring this sacrifice."

Sixteen of the 613 Biblical commandments relate to the Paschal sacrifice, which must be brought on the 14th day of the month of Nissan - Passover eve - and eaten on the night of the 15th. In 2006, this sacrifice is remembered only in the form of the Afikoman, the piece of matzah snatched and hidden by children during the Pesach Seder meal, by the small roasted shank-bone on the Seder plate, and by prayers and study.

Rabbi Ariel said, "After the destruction of the First Temple, when the Jews began returning from Babylonia to the Holy Land, they brought the Paschal sacrifice during the course of 22 years even though there was no Holy Temple. They also were considered ritually impure - because there was no Red Heifer by which to become pure - yet they still brought it... There is currently no genuine impediment to bringing the Paschal sacrifice."

There have been other attempts to renew this sacrifice over the years, or at least to solve the Halakhic problems involved. Speaking about the rabbis who came to the Holy Land 700 years ago and sought to pave the way to offer the Pesach lamb, the rabbi said, "It is simply disgraceful when we compare our actions with theirs. They were here after the Crusaders, when there were perhaps 1,000 Jews in the whole land, which was totally desolate, and tried to renew this commandment. And yet we have 5-6 million Jews, and we have an army with tanks and planes, and what are we doing? ...

"Over 2,000 years ago, the Jews were afraid to live in Jerusalem, yet they made it obligatory for one out of every 10 men to work towards building the Holy Temple, and they started the sacrifice services amidst the ruins of the First Temple. And where are we? Should we not be ashamed?"

Among the problems that Rabbi Ariel said have been solved by the Temple Institute he heads in Jerusalem are the following: Ritual impurity (which applies only to individuals, not to the entire nation), the precise location of the altar, and the sacred priestly garments, which the Institute has recently completed fashioning according to biblical requirements.

He emphasizes, of course, that the exact details of these and other issues are complex and must be reviewed with rabbinical experts. "I don't say that there aren't problems, but as the Maharatz Chayut has written, there is no Halakhic problem in the Temple that cannot be solved."

"Why then do you not go and sacrifice the Pesach sacrifice yourself?" Rabbi Ariel was asked. "Have you just now returned from the moon?" he answered with pain. "The government has established a special police unit just for the Temple Mount. A Jew is forbidden even to move his lips there - and you want me to go there with my sheep and building tools to build an altar?

"The problem, which has received the silent backing of the rabbinical world, is that we have allowed the Arabs to be in charge of the Mount, and so they play soccer there. That's what happened when Moshe Dayan gave the Temple Mount keys to the Arabs [after the Six Day War]. First they give them the keys, then they say, 'It's impossible [to regain control],' and then they say, 'We don't know [all the details of the Temple Mount and the altar, etc.].' The 200 commandments that are connected with the Temple cry out every day, 'Jews, where are you?!'"


Germany Agrees to Open Vast Holocaust Archive

By Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Under US pressure, Germany agreed Tuesday to give Holocaust historians access to closely-guarded files with personal data on more than 17 million victims of the Nazis.

Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries broke years of deadlock by announcing that Germany would support opening up the International Tracing Service when governments overseeing the archive meet next month in Rome. "Getting Germany behind this is quite a significant step forward," Zypries told a news conference at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Critics have singled out Germany for refusing to lift restrictions on the files. Some say the practices at the agency, based in the western

The US government, Jewish groups and researchers at former Nazi concentration camp sites have pressed for access to victims' personal data contained in some 30 million documents, saying they would provide fresh insight into the Nazi regime and its victims. "This is the most comprehensive archival collection relating to the fate of people who were targeted and victimized," said Paul Shapiro, the Holocaust Museum's chief researcher.

For instance, the data could deepen understanding of Nazi prisoner transports and the slave labor system, he said. "We are talking about a significant addition of material."

Historians have had access since 1996 to the archive's data on conditions in the concentration camps, forced labor and other Nazi programs such as "Lebensborn," Adolf Hitler's organized effort to have Germans bear children to raise a presumed master race.

But the files on individual detainees have been off-limits. They list chilling details such as the date and place of detention and official cause of death, but also whether inmates were homosexual, criminals or sick - all reasons for the Nazis to send them to the camps, where millions died.

Zypries said Germany was not the only country that has balked at the opening. Italy, for example, still has to be persuaded, she said.

German officials have feared that releasing the names of victims would lead to a new raft of lawsuits seeking compensation from Germany, similar to the pressure that led the government and German companies to compensate Nazi-era slave laborers in recent years.

Germany and the Swiss-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which manages the Bad Arolsen archive, have also cited concern for the privacy of Nazi victims.

Shapiro said the fear of fresh lawsuits was overblown, in part because deadlines in most US class-action settlements of Nazi-era compensation claims had passed. "I have not heard anyone calling for this material to be opened for that purpose," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Germany sits on an 11-nation supervisory body that must approve any opening of the archive, set up in 1955 as a repository of Nazi records seized by the victorious World War II allies.

The archive's name comes from its original humanitarian function immediately after World War II, when the tracing service sought to track down non-Germans missing in war and to reunite surviving family members.

The agency later shifted its focus to archiving the fates of concentration-camp and death-camp inmates, slave and forced laborers and children. Critics have long accused the ICRC of excessive secrecy for its role in the archive.


Sharks Visit Haifa

By YnetNews.com

A school of about 15 sharks was spotted Wednesday afternoon off the southern shores of Haifa. The Israeli Marine Mammal and Assistance Center (IMMRAC) at Michmoret reported that the sharks pose no danger to humans, as long as people refrain from approaching them or trying to hurt them.

The sharks were first sighted at about 3 p.m., when they were at a distance of some 1,500 feet from the shore, and researchers were immediately called to the site. According to eyewitnesses who saw the sharks, "their fins were sticking out of the water just like in the movies."

Oz Goffman, IMMRAC director-general, told Ynet he estimates that the group is of fox-type sharks, named so due to the elongated shape of their heads. He noted that the sharks appeared to be minding their own business and posed no threat to the bathers at sea. He stressed, however, that it was not advisable to come near the sharks, try to hunt them, or pet them.

IMMRAC experts also stated that shark schools were not an uncommon sight in the Mediterranean Sea, unlike dolphins that rarely visit the Sea's eastern basin.

Since the beginning of spring, several groups of rare marine mammals have been sighted along Israel's coasts. IMMRAC officials have on several occasions been summoned to assist whales and sharks across the country's shores. In some cases, sharks were found dead, while in others they were rescued alive from fishing nets.


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