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Daughter of French Extreme Right Winger to Visit Israel, PA


Marine Le Pen, daughter of extreme right wing leader Jean Marie Le Pen, plans to visit Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority Saturday, according to the French news agency AFP. No further details on her plans were released. She is vice president of her father's National Front party and will visit as a member of the European parliament's Israel delegation. Her father's party has been labeled as neo-Nazi although he denies he is anti-Israel. Harper's magazine earlier this month reported that Marine Le Pen is trying to steer the national Front from the extreme right to the "patriotic center."

Iran's Ayatollah: Israel's Defeat is a 'New Chapter'


Iran's Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenaei, referred to as the "Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution" by Iran's official English-language news web site, and was quoted as saying that "victory in Lebanon and Israel's defeat in the war fronts opened a new chapter in history of the Middle East."

Addressing worshipers in a Tuesday sermon after the Eid El-Fitr holiday prayers at Tehran's Mossalla Prayer Grounds, the Ayatollah said, "The policy the US wished to implement in the Middle East has failed. ...Nations of Lebanon, Iran, Palestine, other Arab states of the region, of Iraq and of other Muslim nations should be watchful not to take any move to help the treacherous plans of the US and Zionists. Whatever is regarded as a success for the US and the Israeli regime is harmful to all Muslim states. Whatever pleases the aggressors and plunderers in the region, would make all regional nations unhappy and depressed."

In another message from the Iranian leadership to the Persian nation, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on Muslims to create a baby boom to double his country's population. He said birth control policies should be scrapped, and that women should work less so they can spend more time on the "main mission" of raising children.

Ahmadinejad said, "I am against saying two children are enough. Our country has a lot of capacity. It has the capacity for many children to grow in it. It even has the capacity for 120 million people. Westerners have problems. Because their population growth is negative they are worried and fear that if our population increases, we will triumph over them."

Israeli Military Petitioning to Reoccupy Gaza


The Israeli Defense Forces, concerned about the massive amount of weaponry recently smuggled into the Gaza Strip and the regular firing of rockets at nearby Jewish communities, will present battle plans for approval by the government here later this week for a large-scale Gaza offensive, senior IDF officers told WND.

The officials said the offensive is "crucial" for Israel's security and would be the largest military operation launched against Palestinian terror groups in Gaza since Israel evacuated the territory last year.

But the officials said they worried the Gaza assault may be "watered down" or not approved at all by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for political reasons.

As WND reported, senior IDF officials told Israel's Knesset last week more than 20 tons of weapons have been brought into Gaza from the neighboring Sinai desert in the last 10 months alone, including a large number of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.

Earlier this month WND obtained a report by the intelligence branch of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party which stated Hamas has smuggled between several hundred and 1,300 tons of weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, including advance rockets; anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles; rocket propelled grenades; raw explosives; rifles; ammunition; and other heavy weaponry.

Yuval Diskin, director of Israel's Shin Bet Security Services, told the Knesset last month there are major fears Palestinian terror groups are "turning Gaza into south Lebanon." Diskin was referring to the Lebanese Hizbullah militia's development in south Lebanon of large rocket and weapons arsenals for use against Israel. Gaza-based Palestinian terror groups have boasted openly of preparing for a major confrontation against the Jewish state.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. In a deal brokered in November by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Egypt-Gaza border, once controlled by the Jewish state, now is manned by Egyptian and Palestinian security officials and observed by European monitors. The monitors reportedly have fled their duty several times the past few months.

Israeli security officials have noted multiple breaches in border security, including the open transport of terrorists and weapons across the border. They say several key sections of the border are penetrable and that smuggling tunnels that snake under the border are "thriving."

Since Israel's Gaza withdrawal, Palestinian terror groups have been regularly firing rockets at Jewish communities neighboring the Gaza Strip. The targeted communities are inside what is referred to as "pre-1967 Israel," meaning territory certified by the international community as unoccupied and unquestionably part of the Jewish state.

The IDF launched a major ground invasion of Gaza in June following the raid of an Israeli military installation just outside Gaza during which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. Since then, most Israeli operations inside Gaza were surgical and mostly utilized small numbers of ground troops.

At a scheduled meeting of Olmert's security cabinet later this week, the IDF is set to outline a major Gaza assault aimed at blocking Egypt-Gaza smuggling routes, confiscating weaponry already transferred into Gaza, halting the rocket-firing at Jewish communities and badly damaging Gaza's terror infrastructure.

Senior IDF sources told WND the weapons confiscation operation would include a large ground invasion and sweep of southern and northern Gaza towns. They said according to intelligence information, most weaponry is concentrated in and near Rafah, the south border city between Gaza and Egypt.

But they suspect in the coming weeks the terror groups, anticipating an IDF onslaught, will transfer weaponry to private homes and underground storage centers in central and north Gaza. "The only way to get to the weaponry is a large sweep of the hot zones that includes house-to-house searches," said an IDF source.

The IDF plans to stem the weapons smuggling from Egypt into Gaza include the establishment of a permanent Israeli military presence at the Gaza-Egypt border to generate real-time intelligence at the site and to serve as a launch pad for pinpoint operations to stop the smuggling.

Military sources, though, said Olmert was unlikely to approve what would amount to the reoccupation of parts of Gaza. "We should never have withdrawn in the first place," a senior IDF officer told WND. "The greatest admission of the Gaza withdrawal's failure would be for us to have to reoccupy any part of Gaza. I don't think that will happen. Olmert will also have to contend with major international backlash for any such move.

The officer said another plan that will be presented to Olmert entails the creation of a large ditch along the Gaza-Egypt border that would be filled with water from the nearby Mediterranean Sea and that could cause any weapons smuggling tunnels constructed along the border to collapse.

IDF sources said plans to stop Kassam rocket fire include the reoccupation of the northern Gaza strip, from which most rockets have been fired, or the stepping up of targeted operations to take out rockets and rocket crews before the projectiles are launched.

The IDF is aware Palestinians have smuggled into Gaza longer-range rockets that can be fired from the central part of the territory so that if the northern Strip were occupied, rockets can still target nearby Jewish communities, military sources said. "Occupation of the northern Gaza Strip will inhibit a lot of rocket fire, but we know we would need to retake most of the central and northern Strip to completely stop the fire," an IDF source said.

Senior military leaders said any major Gaza operation would be planned for later next month, after Olmert returns from a trip to the United States scheduled for Nov. 13. The military leaders worried politics might hamper what they say are "necessary" military operations.

"Olmert cannot afford another disaster like Lebanon," a senior IDF officer explained. "Any major ground incursion includes risk to the lives of Israeli troops. Olmert might not want to risk anything unless he can be convinced the overall plan will be absolutely successful."

During the past few weeks, senior terror leaders in Gaza, including militants from Abbas' Fatah party, told WND they are planning for war against Israel. "We are turning Gaza into south Lebanon," said Abu Ahmed, northern Gaza leader for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group. "We learned from Hizbullah's victory that Israel can be defeated if we know how to hit them and if we are well prepared," Abu Ahmed said. "We are importing rockets and the knowledge to launch them, and we are also making many plans for battle."

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' so-called "military wing," told WND his group is preparing for war against Israel. "In the last 15 months, even though the fighters of Hamas kept the cease-fire, we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level. In the future, after Hamas is obliged to stop the cease-fire, the world shall see our new military capabilities," said Abu Abdullah, who is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department.

Al Aqsa's Abu Ahmed said his group is receiving help from Hizbullah to import long-range rockets and train in guerrilla warfare tactics.

"We have warm relations with Hizbullah, which helps with some of the training programs," Abu Ahmed said. "We don't have anything to be ashamed of – that we are dealing with Hizbullah and that we are receiving training and information from them."

He said Hizbullah maintains cells in the Sinai. "The Sinai is an excellent ground for training, the exchange of information and weapons and for meetings on how to turn every piece of land into usable territory for a confrontation with Israel," Abu Ahmed said.

The terror leader said Palestinian groups are developing war bunkers inside Gaza similar to the underground Hizbullah lairs Israel found during last month's war in Lebanon. "Our preparations include the building of special bunkers. Of course, we are taking into consideration that Gaza is not the same topography as Lebanon," Abu Ahmed said.

During its confrontation with Hizbullah, Israel destroyed scores of complex bunkers that snaked along the Lebanese side of the Israel-Lebanon border. Military officials said they were surprised by the scale of the Hizbullah bunkers, in which Israeli troops reportedly found war rooms stocked with advanced eavesdropping and surveillance equipment they noted were made by Iran.

Abu Ahmed said the most important "tool" in the "Palestinian resistance arsenal was rockets. He said his group learned from Hizbullah that Israel can be defeated with missiles. "We saw that with the capacity to bombard the Israeli population with hundreds of rockets every day we can change the strategic balance with Israel," he said.

Palestinian terror groups generally have fired at Israeli towns three versions of Kassam rockets, improvised steel projectiles filled with explosives and fuel. Kassams can travel between one and five miles depending on the sophistication of the particular rocket.

Israel has noted improvements in Kassams, including rockets carrying double engines. Israeli security officials said a large number of Katyusha rockets have been brought into Gaza. Katyushas can travel about 12 miles and can deliver large payloads. Hizbullah fired more than 2,800 Katyusha rockets into Israel in July and August, devastating many northern towns.

In August, Islamic Jihad fired a Katyusha rocket into the Israeli Negev. It landed in an empty area. In June, the group fired a Katyusha-like rocket that traveled about nine miles. "The Katyusha we fired (in August) shows we can have every weapon we need," said Abu Ahmed. "It is only a matter of a small period before Gaza is ready for war."

Minister to Sephardic Jews: Claim Your Reparations


Could the Jews who left countries such as Morocco, Iraq, Egypt and other Arab and Muslim states get reparations for the lost property they left behind? Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit, himself a former refugee from Morocco, has announced the renewal of a campaign to document the legacies of those who came from Arab countries and record their claims.

The claims refer to property and other belongings that were left behind at the country of origin. Sheetrit explained that "we are talking about hundreds of thousands of claims that could be used as a balance to the claims of Palestinian refugees asking to return to Israel."

During his first stint as justice minister, Sheetrit established a special committee within the ministry designed to build a database for the documentation of the public and private legacies and properties of Jews who left Arab countries and to record the culture and heritage of Jews in those countries.

Upon his return to the post as the acting justice minister, Sheetrit reintroduced the committee and was even able to raise the necessary budget for its operation. He emphasized the importance of these actions at this time saying that "If the State of Israel will not work on this project, it will never happen. If we wait for years, Israel may find itself in a position where the task cannot be completed."

Sheetrit explained that "the Palestinians are using the refugees as ammunition against Israel. When the time will ripen for peace talks, Israel could present this data as a balancing factor to the claims of the Palestinians."

According to him, "about 600,000 Jews left Arab countries, where the vast majority of them arrived in Israel, a country which absorbed them and led them to full integration in the Israeli society. On the other hand, about 200,000 Palestinians left Israel and have not assimilated into the rich Arab countries where they live. In addition, the hundreds of millions of dollars which were given to them by the UNRWA did not bring to an improvement in their position. They still live in refugee camps in Israel and in the Arab countries including the West Bank and Gaza."

Sheetrit appointed Jean-Claude Nidam to head the effort of documenting the properties of Jews who left Arab countries who live in Israel and abroad. The effort will be assisted by more than 60 Jewish communities around the world which have already announced their participation in the campaign.

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