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Shalit Kidnappers Reject Egyptian-Brokered Deal


Hamas terrorists who are holding IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit hostage have rejected a deal to swap the Israeli soldier for hundreds of Palestinian Authority Arab prisoners.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Gheit said in an interview on Al Arabiya television that terrorists rejected a deal "to free women, children, elders and those who have been serving long prison terms" in exchange for Shalit. The prisoner exchange "could have guaranteed freeing 900 to 1,000 prisoners," said Abu Gheit, "but sadly they have decided to keep holding him."

Egypt lost patience with Hamas last week and demanded in a harsh letter written by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to Damascus-based Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal that Shalit be released by October 22nd, the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Suleiman also said Mashaal would be held responsible for any Israeli military operation carried out in Gaza. IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz said before the Yom Kippur holiday on Sunday that Israel may ratchet up the pressure in Gaza in response to increased Kassam rocket attacks on Sderot and other southern Israeli communities.

A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, the Hamas terror organization that kidnapped Shalit, said Monday that such an attack would mean the file of the soldier may get closed again." The spokesman, Abu Mujahed, warned, "If they enter Gaza and kill people or even if they eliminate all Gazans, they will never regain their soldier."

New Palestinian Fighting Reported

By VOA News

At least three people were killed and 21 more injured Monday in new fighting among rival Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said two people were killed and at least 17 others were wounded when gun battles broke out between supporters of the Fatah faction and the terrorist Islamic group Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip.

In Jericho, in the Israeli occupied West Bank, news reports said Fatah gunmen shot and killed a waiter who refused to abide by a Fatah-led strike. In the West Bank town of Nablus, two bodyguards of Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer were wounded when gunmen fired on their car. Palestinian leaders have appealed for calm, but Gaza and the West Bank remains tense.

The violence began Sunday when militia loyal to the ruling Hamas group confronted pro-Fatah civil servants protesting about unpaid wages. Sunday's fighting was described as the worst internal Palestinian violence since Hamas won elections in January.

The Palestinian Authority has been unable to pay the salaries of more than 160,000 civil servants since March. International donors suspended aid after Hamas took power in the territories.

Most of the clashes have been between Palestinians loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and those loyal to Hamas. Politicians from the two parties have been deadlocked over forming a Palestinian unity government.

Assad: Peace Talks with Israel Could be Completed in 6 Months

By Ha'aretz

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Monday that he believes that if peace talks with Israel were to resume from where they left off, they could conclude within as little as six months.

In an interview with Spain's El Pais newspaper, Assad reiterated his desire to conduct peace negotiations with Israel, and expressed his belief that Middle East peace talks should be revived, and that the achievement of an "encompassing and just" peace agreement would serve as a permanent solution to the area's recurring problems.

Assad continued, saying the international community "must have faith in Syria" that it will guard its border with Lebanon. However, Assad said that he cannot make an oath to halt all arms smuggling from Syria into Lebanon.

No military or international body can stop Hizbullah from smuggling weapons into Lebanon, he said. "If there is a real desire to smuggle [weapons], neither Security Council resolutions nor surveillance nor the whole armies of the world can prevent this." Hizbullah is widely believed to have received weapons and other support from its backers, Syria and Iran.

After the 34-day war between Hizbullah and Israel that ended on August 14, Israel said it wanted international troops to deploy on the Lebanon-Syrian border to enforce a halt in weapons shipments. Syria strongly rejected the idea, warning it would close the border with Lebanon.

Assad said other nations "should have faith in Syria" over controlling its borders. Syria has, however, increased the number of troops on its border with Lebanon by moving forces from its eastern border with Iraq, he said. "We have strengthened the border with Lebanon, but of course, this made us move parts of our forces guarding the border with Iraq to the border with Lebanon.

The move appeared to be an effort to appease international requests but likely would increase criticism from the United States and Iraqi governments, which have long accused Syria of not doing enough to stop insurgents crossing into Iraq to fight U.S. troops. Syria denied the allegation, saying it was impossible to fully control the long desert border it shares with Iraq.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said during his recent trip to the Middle East that Assad had assured him that Damascus was prepared to delineate its border with Lebanon.

In the El Pais interview, Assad also said the U.S. "was not a fair co-sponsor" of the stalled Middle East peace process and called on Europe to take an active role. "Regrettably there is not another international power that can replace it [the U.S.], and at the same time, the United States should not be alone, and here is where Europe's role comes in," he said.

Yom Kippur: Hundreds of thousands of DVDs rented


Tens of thousands of Israelis flocked to video stores over the weekend to rent movies for the Yom Kippur holiday.

Blockbuster executives reported that by Saturday evening some 260,000 DVDs and videos had been rented from stores, adding that an additional 60,000 are expected to be rented out Sunday morning.

Video chain Rav-Seret said customers emptied out rental machines in a hurry. "People are fearful that they won't be able to go through the day (Yom Kippur) without watching television and are renting more movies than they'll actually have the time to watch," said Shimon Diamant, part owner of the Modern Times video store chain.

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