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Suicide Bomber's Word to Mother: Pray for Me


Eilat suicide bomber Mohamed Saqsaq told his mother in his last telephone conversation with her, "I am leaving, Mom, pray for me." Aware of her son's mission, she said she did pray for him, stating that he wanted to become a martyr. The mother, Umm Na'im, said she hoped the bombing will help Fatah and Hamas militias turn their weapons against Israel instead of each other, according to the Bethlehem-based independent Ma'an news agency.

Fatah-Jihad Suicide Terrorist Murders Three in Eilat

By VOA News,, Ha'aretz &

Defense Minister Amir Peretz has ordered the IDF to prepare for a counter-terrorist operation in the aftermath of Monday's suicide bombing in Eilat. Peretz declared that no ceasefire would keep Israel from responding to terrorist attacks.

Peretz met in Jerusalem with senior officers from the IDF and the General Security Services after the attack, which left three civilians dead and five in shock after a 21-year-old unemployed construction worker from Gaza blew himself up in the popular resort city.

It is believed that the IDF will focus on destroying tunnels which lead from Gaza to Egypt and which are used by terrorists to smuggle weapons and infiltrate Israel. However, Peretz said he has no intention of giving details at this time, and would state only that the operation would be "against those who carry out terrorist activities."

Brig. Gen. Tzvika Fogel, ex-head of the Southern Command, said Monday that he was unsurprised by Monday morning's suicide bombing in an Eilat bakery. According to Fogel, there have been many previous attempted attacks in the area. The army must learn quickly how to manage the new front which this attack has opened, he said, because there will certainly be further attempts.

Top security officials, including Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, suspect that the terrorist traveled from Gaza to Egypt via a system of secret tunnels. It is probable, they said, that the terrorist then entered Israel through a gap in the security fence between Israel and Egypt.

IDF officials added that they believe that this is the most likely option. Meanwhile, Egypt has denied the allegations, saying there is no way that the bomber or explosives came through the Sinai Peninsula.

The IDF is also investigating the possibility that the terrorist left Gaza with Israel's permission. It is possible that he received a permit from Israel to travel to the annual Hajj festival in Mecca. Instead of returning to Israel, officials say, he may have stayed in the Sinai Peninsula and infiltrated the Eilat area from there.

Israel has frequently ordered European Union monitors to close the border crossing at Rafiah, which straddles Egypt and Gaza, but the EU recently criticized the closures as unnecessary. The Jewish State was criticized 10 days ago by the head of the EU's team of observers, Lt. Gen. Pietro Pistolese, who said the frequent closings in response to terror alerts were unnecessary. Two Palestinian terrorist groups have claimed joint responsibility for the attack that saw a man in a heavy coat approach a bakery in a quiet neighborhood of Eilat. A short while later a massive explosion shook the area.

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld says evidence collected at the site confirmed that a suicide bombing had taken place. "We could confirm based on the explosives on the body, that there was a connection between them and it was a suicide bombing."

Both Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade have claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to get Palestinians to attack Israel instead of each other. Over the past week, Palestinian infighting between the Fatah and Hamas factions has claimed more than 30 lives.

A spokesman for Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government, praised the bombing calling it a natural response to Israel's policies. The other group involved, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, is affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, but a spokesman for Fatah criticized the attack.

A statement from the White House condemned the attack, saying it holds Hamas accountable for not preventing it. Monday's attack was the first suicide bombing ever to take place in Eilat and the first in Israel since last April, when more than 10 people were killed in a Tel Aviv bombing - also claimed by Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

After the terrorist hitchhiked to the city, Yossi Waltinsky, the man who innocently drove him there, called the police - but it was too late. Around 9:30 in the morning, Eilat police received a call from a man who said he had stopped for a hitchhiker outside Eilat, given him a ride, and dropped him off in the Isidore neighborhood - and that he appeared suspicious. The police sent policemen to the area to investigate, but when they heard the loud blast, they realized they had come too late.

Eyewitnesses questioned by the police said that the bakery was the only store open at that hour. Based on their reports, police surmise that the terrorist was headed for a more crowded spot, but detonated himself in the bakery either because he became scared or accidentally. The explosion caused tremendous damage, eyewitnesses said, and body parts were strewn over the area.

Police cordoned off the area, and Eilat police Chief Bruno Stein said they believed there could be more bombers in the city. "Our assumption is that it's not one bomber, and there might be more bombers in Eilat right now," Stein said. The emergency services raised their alert level to the highest.

Based on the examination of the bomber's body, it appears he entered Israel several days ago, and made his way to Eilat on foot, the senior IDF officer said.

Islamic Jihad had said earlier that the bomber, whom it identified as 21-year-old Gaza Strip resident Mohammed al-Saqsaq, had set out from the West Bank, and reached Eilat via Jordan, after seven months of preparation. Jordan has denied that the bomber entered through its territory. Eilat, some 350 kilometers south of Jerusalem, is bordered by Egypt and Jordan.

According to police Southern District Commander Uri Bar-Lev, despite his suspicions Waltinsky continued to drive the bomber to a gas station located in a neighborhood that is roughly one kilometer from the city center. It took police close to an hour to determine that the explosion had been caused by a bomb, and not a gas leak, as initially believed. Police believe that the explosive device weighed between 4-8 kilograms.

Bread still in trays and shattered glass were scattered outside the shop as ambulance crews and police swarmed the residential street.

The ruling Hamas movement said that the attack was a "natural response" to Israel's policies. The Palestinian Web site Ramattan quoted Saqsaq's family as saying he had left their home three days ago and not returned.

"We knew that he was going to carry out a martyrdom operation," Saqsaq's brother, Naeem, told reporters at the family home in the northern Gaza Strip. "His mother and father prayed for him to succeed."

The attack is the first suicide bombing since April, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, killing nine people.

Eilat, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, is a popular resort for Israelis and foreign holiday-makers, and has largely been spared the violence of the past six years, since the intifada erupted. Israelis have, however, been the targets of a number of attacks in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.

The IDF refused to comment on the issue of whether al-Saqsaq's home would be demolished, but one military source said that "nothing should be ruled out". According to defense establishment sources, Israel did not desire to take extreme and irreversible measures, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

"We must keep in mind that this policy is part of the desire to stabilize the daily life and economy in Gaza," the source explained, "That's why before any military operation is decided on, the short and long term effect on the Strip and Israel must be taken into account."

Following the suicide bombing, Palestinian journalist Fadi Abu Sada offered his two cents on the attack and the infighting in Gaza through his blog on Palestinian News Network: "Israel poising to respond on Eilat attack, it could be by the aerial bombardment and artillery, or perhaps they will try to assassinate Palestinian resistance leaders, what a ironically, we really want that to happen quickly, it might be the only solution to stop the bloody fighting between brothers in the Gaza Strip...

"The great tragedy would be that Israel did not do what we hope, I do not know where cycle of blood and revenge ongoing will lead us, no one even responded to the appeals of citizens to go down to the streets in an attempt to stop the bloodshed, and this confirms the loss of the sense of anything.

"If the matter was my decision, I called for the elite and dignitaries that leap and stop what is happening, but it seems more evident now that there dignitaries originally, because if they are found, they certainly will stand idly by what is happening.

"No many options left: Either do same as what happened in Eilat, either go to hell, or leaving the country with shame of what's happening."

Bernard Lewis: Iran in Apocalyptic Mood


Outdated Cold war concepts, such as mutually assured destruction (M.A.D) are irrelevant when it comes to Iran, because the Iranian president and his circle see such a scenario "as an incentive, not a deterrent," renowned scholar Bernard Lewis said during a lecture Monday evening at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Addressing a packed hall, Lewis spoke after a screening of the film 'Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West'.

"Ahmadinejad and his group clearly believe, and I don't doubt the sincerity of their belief, that we are now entering an apocalyptic age, which will result in the triumph of their messianic figure," Lewis said, referring to the 12th Imam, Mahdi.

"Muslims, like Jews, believe that there are things you can do to hasten the messiah. M.A.D doesn't work with these people."

Lewis added that the threat of many Iranians perishing in a war did not deter the Iranian leadership, which believes "it would be doing them a favor, by giving them a free pass to heaven.

"Iran is a mortal threat, and one also has to take account of the apocalyptic mood of Ahmadinejad and his circle. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, has an end of time scenario," the scholar said. There is only solution to the Iranian threat, and that can only come from the Iranian people."

During his lecture, Lewis said Islam was neither a religion of complete peace nor a religion of war symbolized by a horseman riding with a Koran and a sword. "The truth is somewhere in the middle," he said. "Holy war is part of the religion, and part of holy law… according to which it must be declared, and a warning issued. Attacking non-combatants is forbidden," Lewis said.

Addressing suicide terrorism, the historian added that "suicide is expressly forbidden by Islamic holy law," noting that the act carried the punishment of "forfeiting heaven and going straight to hell."

Jews Allowed to Work on Shabbat?


Indictments issued by Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor against stores for being open on Shabbat and employing Jewish employees are rescinded. Stores included in indictment are Home Center, A.D. Design, Ace Hardware, Mega Sport, and Toys R' Us

The Labor Court cancelled the indictments submitted against the holding company, Fishman Group, the stores in their control, and their managers for employing Jewish employees on Shabbat. Indictments were issued against the companies and stores for alleged violations of the work hours law.

The defendants claimed that the enforcement policy of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor is not consistent, and that the law was not enforced in other sectors (such as cinemas and theaters). It was also claimed that the law isn't enforced equally in all the regions of the country. They brought Ben-Gurion Airport as an example.

The court accepted the defendants' claims, and instructed the indictments be rescinded. The court also ruled that the indictments could be cancelled because the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor enforces the law on a case-by-case basis, and not in a consistent manner.

It was also written in the ruling that the guiding considerations of the ministry and its lack of consistent enforcement in the public sector damage the sense of justice and fairness.

Live Longer, Live in Israel


A new research study shows that Israeli men have one of the longest lifespans of those in developed countries. The average Israeli man can expect to live 78 years, higher than in other developed countries except for Iceland, where the average lifespan is 79.2 years, and Japan, Switzerland, Sweden and Australia, where men live a few months longer than in Israel.

Israeli women live longer than men, but their average 82.4 year lifespan is on par with their counterparts in other developed countries, according to the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies. One of the factors cited for the long lifespan is "the quality and high level" of doctors and nurses.

1,500 Daily Prayers via Phone


A company that provides technology allowing customers to record their prayers, which are transmitted to one of eight holy sites in Israel every day.

The Pray over IP [Internet protocol] company sells phone cards, and callers request that their prayers be heard at the Kotel and other religious sites, most of them Jewish. "It's just $5 or $10, and you get eternal life," said company chairman Hanan Achsaf. "With the lottery, you pay that amount, and what do you get? A piece of paper. This is much better value." The customer selects the site he wants by pressing a number on his telephone, such as the number one for Jerusalem.

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