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Hamas Smuggling Anti-Aircraft Weapons into Gaza

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The head of Military Intelligence's research brigade, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz said Sunday that Hamas is smuggling anti-aircraft weapons into the Gaza Strip. Hamas plans to use the weapons against Israeli aircraft in future conflicts. According to Baidatz the IDF will have to implement new tactics in order to counter the threat. The threat of Hamas using weapons to bring down Israeli civilian aircraft flying out of Ben-Gurion International airport has been mentioned in the past as well.


Efforts to Convene Israeli-Palestinian Summit Break Down

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Efforts to convene a rare Israeli-Palestinian summit have broken down. The thorny issue of the release of Palestinian prisoners is at the heart of the dispute.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said plans for his first summit meeting with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are on hold. Olmert told Cabinet ministers from his ruling Kadima party that Abbas demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners as a condition for the meeting.

Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisen said that is unacceptable. "There cannot be preconditions," she said. Olmert said there would be no prisoner release, until the Palestinians free a kidnapped soldier held in the Gaza Strip.

Gunmen from the ruling Islamic terrorist group Hamas seized 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid on an Israeli army base in June. The Hamas-led government is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captive soldier.

But Eisen says Israel will not cave in to what she calls "terrorist blackmail. We say we will not now release prisoners, because Cpl. Shalit was abducted, and we can't release any of these prisoners right now."

With about 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, the issue of freeing the prisoners is a popular cause on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian analyst Bassam Eid said Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, has been ineffective, and he needs to show his people the tangible benefits of talking peace. "Mr. Abu Mazen already gave so many promises, which unfortunately Mr. Abu Mazen himself did nothing right now."

Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, is locked in a power struggle with the rival Hamas, a group that seeks Israel's destruction. Israel said it wants to strengthen Abbas, but it fears a prisoner release would have the opposite effect. Israeli officials said it would show the Palestinians that terrorism pays, and strengthen the militants of Hamas.


Police Recommend Indicting Israel's President for Rape

By VOA News

Police in Israel have concluded there is sufficient evidence to charge President Moshe Katsav with rape. In a statement, police investigators said they also found sufficient evidence for charges of illegal wiretapping and fraud regarding presidential pardons. The investigators presented their recommendation to Israel's attorney general, Menachem Mazuz Sunday.

During the long investigation, police seized records and computers at the president's official residence and interviewed him several times.

Several women who worked for President Katsav have accused him of sexual misconduct including rape. The Israeli president maintains he is innocent and has accused one of the women of trying to blackmail him.

Katsav is immune from prosecution while holding office. But Israel's parliament, the Knesset can remove him from office. The role of president in Israel is largely ceremonial.

A previous Israeli president, the late Ezer Weizman, was suspected of receiving improper payments. But this is the first time an Israeli president has been accused of sexual misconduct.


IDF Surprises Reservists with Gifts

By Ha'aretz

Reserve soldiers who were drafted during the second Lebanon war received a holiday gift from the Israel Defense Forces: gift certificates worth NIS 392 (about $93).

Most of the recipients were surprised by the gift, since the IDF had made no prior announcement and sent out the vouchers without any publicity.

A senior IDF official said over the weekend that all soldiers who were drafted under emergency orders during the Lebanon war (between July 7 and August 14) and served at least eight days received the gift certificates. The cabinet agreed to compensation, which totals NIS 25 million and will come out of the defense budget.

In addition to sums received from the National Insurance Institute (NII), reservists drafted during the Lebanon war will be compensated in two other ways. Starting from their eighth day of service, reservists will receive NIS 50 per day for expenses up to a NIS 1,300 ceiling. This amount, which will also come out of the defense budget, totals NIS 70 million.

The cabinet also decided to establish a NIS 45 million fund for reservists who were financially hurt during the war. The IDF is presently determining the criteria for the compensation, which will apply to students, self employed individuals, farmers and others.

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Olmert to Travel to Russia

By Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Ehud is set to leave Tuesday for Moscow, his first visit since taking office. At his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, the two leaders will discuss efforts to contain Iran's nuclear program, and Olmert will try to persuade Putin to agree to sanctions on Iran. Russian opposition to sanctions has been the main stumbling block against implementation. Olmert is also expected to tell Putin that the North Korean nuclear test last week should be a warning regarding Iran. While in Moscow, Olmert is also expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, as well as with leaders of the Jewish community. He will return to Israel Thursday night.


Rabbis (Male) to Discuss Problem of Agunot

By Ha'aretz

An international conference of rabbis and rabbinical judges will be held in Jerusalem at the beginning of November on Halakhic ways to solve the problem of women whose husbands refuse to divorce them.

The conference will focus on means of pressuring husbands to grant their wives a divorce, from imposing economic and social sanctions on them to prenuptial agreements. However, representatives of women's organizations that campaign for the rights of agunot - women whose husbands have disappeared without divorcing them or whose husbands refuse to divorce them - have not been invited to the conference.

While women's organizations have been demanding for years that something be done to help these women, this is the first time that the Chief Rabbinate, which is sponsoring the conference, and the rabbinical courts have admitted that there is a problem that needs solving.

"Behind every man who refuses to divorce his wife stands a family and an entire community that supports him and provides him with social and economic assistance. Society must publicly condemn men who refuse divorce, just as it denounces rapists and pedophiles," said Eli Ben Dahan director general of the rabbinical courts.

Every year, some 50 additional women are stranded without a divorce and cannot remarry, even though a number of cases are also solved, according to the rabbinical courts. Ben Dahan and Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar say that the situation in Israel is better than it is in Diaspora communities. However, women's organizations disagree, asserting that the number of women stranded without a divorce is much bigger than the rabbinical courts say.

"The situation in Israel is a catastrophe. The rabbis should use the sanctions at their disposal and take action, instead of looking for the guilty party elsewhere," said Rahel Azaria, director general of Mavoi Satum ('Dead End'), an organization that assists agunot.

Azaria does not understand why the conference is being organized by the rabbinical courts, which, she said, do not assist the stranded women at all, but rather drag their feet, miring divorce cases in red tape.


Find a Spouse at a Cemetery

By YnetNews.com

Spiritualism has also hit the singles scene that is always on the lookout for new and original ways of creating new ties.

Those who have tiered of sleazy dating scenes can now try the spiritual option by seeking the aid of Rabbi Yonosson (Yonatan) Ben Uziel, a gifted disciple of the famous Hillel.

Tradition has it that unmarried persons visiting Rabbi Yonosson Ben Uziel's resting place would be guaranteed marriage within a year. And this weekend, the tomb located in Amuka nestled in the hills near Safed has become a preferred pilgrimage site for singles.

Izhar Hess, who runs the Derech Halev Company (The Way of the Heart), organizes tours of the site while focusing on spirituality and awareness. Hess tours the tombs with singles and pays special attention to the tomb of Ben Uziel.

Later he blends both worlds with activities such as card and awareness games, in which each of the participants discloses another character trait. This is a good way to learn about the participants' backgrounds.

The tour also includes group meditation, coffee and tea around a bonfire while Hess unfolds stories relating to traditional and historic relations. Later Hess holds prayer sessions where each participant can have a heart to heart talk with the pious man and himself.

Hess explained that this gives participants an opportunity to think about what they really want from life. As a bonus, the special relationship that is created between the participants serves as a good basis for a future intimate relationship.

You may very well end up having to tell your grandchildren that you met your spouse at a cemetery.


Has King David's Spa Been Uncovered?

By YnetNews.com

There's a buzz of excitement among archeologists. In recent days, archeological digs in Jerusalem revealed a tunnel that, according to a number of estimates, leads to a pool used by King David.

The digs, which have been underway for years, are located in David's City, west of the Wailing Wall. A year ago, archeologists discovered a pool from the days of the Second Temple that had been used by pilgrims to Jerusalem, to refresh them after their long journey.

Recently, the edge of a tunnel was discovered in the digs. Archeologists posit that it leads to a pool, originally located next to a garden full of fruit trees, where King David and other kings of the dynasty used to bathe.

In order to ascertain whether it is really King David's spa, it will be necessary to dig for several months to the other end of the 30-meter-long tunnel. Such digging requires special permission from the Greek Orthodox patriarchy, who is the holder of the land.

Prof. Ronny Reich of Haifa University, the leading archeologist at the David City dig, does not believe that the tunnel leads to King David's baths and said that only when the dig uncovers dateable artifacts will they be able to posit what lies at the other end.


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