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Woman Killed by Kassam Rocket in Sderot


A local woman was killed by a Kassam rocket in Sderot Monday night after an attack that scored a direct hit on her car as she stood next to it near a bakery in the center of town. The woman, whose age was estimated by eyewitnesses to be about 35, was pronounced dead on arrival at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. She had suffered severe injuries to her chest and stomach, and bled to death.

The barrage of five rockets slammed into a commercial shopping area in the center of town shortly before 8 p.m. Monday evening while business owners were meeting to discuss the situation. Most businesses were closed as a result, minimizing what might otherwise have become a mammoth disaster.

Renewed Fighting Rages Around Palestinian Camp in Lebanon

By Challiss McDonough (VOA-Cairo)

Fighting between the Lebanese army and Islamic extremists has been raging around a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon. The death toll has climbed to more than 50 since the gun battles started Sunday.

The sound of intense automatic gunfire and exploding artillery shells could be heard from several kilometers away as renewed fighting erupted around the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli. Huge plumes of black smoke were rising from the camp as the battle raged on. The fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam militants began early Sunday and has intensified dramatically. The army sent in hundreds of reinforcements, and tanks pounded the camp with artillery shells.

A spokesman for the Sunni militant group told Western news agencies that they would expand the battle outside Tripoli if the army did not stop bombardment of its stronghold. Reports from inside Nahr al-Bared said camp residents were taking shelter in their homes as the fighting raged on.

[Meanwhile, an explosion has rocked a Muslim neighborhood in Lebanon's capital, as Lebanese troops and Islamic militants continue to fight fierce battles at a Palestinian refugee camp to the north. Television footage showed widespread damage late Monday in the Muslim district of Verdun in western Beirut. Witnesses say the blast set cars ablaze and damaged buildings.

Sami Baroudi, a political science professor at the American University in Beirut, said that for months there have been concerns about Lebanon's fragile security situation and reports that extremist groups have been arming themselves and infiltrating the area. "Somehow we were expecting something like this to happen, but not at all at this scale," he said. "I think even the army, the intelligence; have been really surprised by the scale of it, by the extent of the coordination. So while clearly this is the work of a terrorist group, I think everybody underestimated how much it could do in one blow."

This is the worst outbreak of internal violence since the end of Lebanon's civil war. It comes at a time when, most analysts say, the Lebanese government is extremely weak. Politics have been deadlocked for six months over a proposed international court to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Several Lebanese cabinet ministers have said they believe Fatah al-Islam is trying to derail the court on behalf of Syria, which opposes it. The government previously leveled that same allegation at Lebanese political opposition parties, led by the armed Shiite group Hizbullah.

Hamas: Jews Must Run From Ashkelon Just Like Those from Sderot


Nizar Riyan, a Hamas leader in Gaza, said his organization is determined to have Israel wiped off the map and be replaced by a state of Palestine. Speaking with the Hamas TV station, Riyan called upon the PA Arab factions in Gaza to keep fighting the Jews "even if the Arabs and Abu Mazen do not agree, until the last Jew leaves Palestine."

Further dispelling any illusions that only Judea and Samaria are contested lands, Riyan called for the bombardment of Ashkelon "until its Jews run away just like those of Sderot... The Arabs were expelled from Sderot and Ashkelon, and now the time has come to expel the land-stealers and allow the Arabs to return."

The city of Sderot, besieged for over five years by Kassam rockets, has many non-reinforced homes and schools; Ashkelon's population, close to 110,000, is more than five times that of Sderot.

In late October 2005, Gen. Dan Harel, completing his term as head of the IDF Southern Command, warned that Ashkelon was already in range of Kassam rockets and that the city would eventually be targeted. Within a few weeks, rockets began hitting the southern outskirts of the city almost weekly, often landing near the Rotenberg Power Plant. The station is Israel's second-largest electric station, supplying about a quarter of Israel's electricity.

Meanwhile, Cabinet ministers are threatening Hamas leaders with personal liquidation. Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), a former Defense Minister, said Monday that terrorist offices and even Hamas government ministers must be targeted directly, in addition to those who plan and execute Kassam attacks.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said Monday that even Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and exiled leader Khaled Mashaal are legitimate targets. Dichter further said that fears for the fate of captured soldier Gilad Shalit should not govern Israel's war against terrorism, nor are they well-grounded. "The return of Gilad Shalit safe and sound is a very important mission," Dichter told Army Radio. "This is a goal that must be sought as if there was no war against terrorism, while at the same time we must fight against terrorism as if there was no Gilad Shalit issue."

Shalit was captured 11 months ago while guarding the Gaza border. He is being held somewhere in Gaza. Two other soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were kidnapped on the Lebanon border 18 days later, kicking off the Second Lebanon War. It is not known if the latter two are alive, and, unlike with Shalit, negotiations have not been underway for their exchange.

Messiah Mystery Follows Death of Mystical Rabbi


A controversy is raging in Israel, in evangelical circles in the U.S. and on kabbalah web forums worldwide following the posthumous release of what a revered Sephardic rabbi claimed to be the name of the Messiah.

When Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri died in February 2006, somewhere between the age of 106 to possibly 117, 300,000 attended his funeral in Jerusalem. The Baghdad-born kabbalist had gained notoriety around the world for issuing apocalyptic warnings and for saying he personally met the long-awaited Jewish Messiah in November 2003.

Before Kaduri died, he reportedly wrote the name of the Messiah on a small note, requesting it remained sealed for one year after his death. The note revealed the name of the Messiah as "Yehoshua" or "Yeshua" – or the Hebrew name Jesus.

However, complicating the story further, the note is being challenged as a forgery by his 80-year-old son Rabbi David Kaduri. "It's not his writing," he is quoted as telling Israel Today.

The note, written in Hebrew and signed in the rabbi's name, said: "Concerning the letter abbreviation of the Messiah's name, He will lift the people and prove that his word and law are valid. This I have signed in the month of mercy." The Hebrew sentence consists of six words. The first letter of each of those words spells out the Hebrew name Yehoshua or Yeshua.

The finding has raised a combination of excitement and controversy in both Jewish and Christian circles – but scarcely any media attention. Jewish blogs and web forums are filled with skeptical analysis and puzzlement. "So this means Rabbi Kaduri was a Christian?" asked one poster rhetorically. Another wrote: "The Christians are dancing and celebrating."

Not exactly. In fact, many Christian discussion boards say Kaduri's description of the Messiah – no matter what his name – doesn't fit the biblical account of a returned Jesus of Nazareth, who, they believe, will rule and reign on Earth from Jerusalem for 1,000 years.

About his encounter with the Messiah Kaduri claimed is alive in Israel today, he reportedly told close relatives: "He is not saying, 'I am the Messiah, give me the leadership.' Rather the nation is pushing him to lead them, after they find [in my words] signs showing that he has the status of Messiah." Kaduri was also quoted as saying the imminent arrival of the Messiah will "save Jerusalem from Islam and Christianity that wish to take Jerusalem from the Jewish Nation – but they will not succeed, and they will fight each other."

Statements like that have some Christians wondering if Kaduri might be talking about another Yeshua – perhaps even a miracle-performing "false Christ" many evangelicals believe will precede the return of Jesus. "It is hard for many good people in society to understand the person of the Messiah," Kaduri wrote before his death. "The leadership and order of a Messiah of flesh and blood is hard to accept for many in the nation. As leader, the Messiah will not hold any office, but will be among the people and use the media to communicate. His reign will be pure and without personal or political desire. During his dominion, only righteousness and truth will reign."

Kaduri wrote that not all will believe in the Messiah – and that it will often be easier for non-religious people to accept him. He also describes a Messiah who is, at first, not aware of his position.

A few months before his death, Kaduri gave a Yom Kippur address in which he gave clues as to how to recognize the Messiah. He told those gathered for the Day of Atonement in his synagogue the Messiah would not come until former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dies. Sharon was stricken while in office Jan. 4, 2006. He remained in a coma until replaced by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. While many expected the imminent passing of Sharon, he has remained alive but unconscious ever since his attack.

Shortly after what Kaduri characterized as his Nov. 4, 2003, encounter with the Messiah, in which he said he learned his name, the rabbi began warning of impending disasters worldwide. In September 2005 in a class at his Jerusalem yeshiva seminary, Kaduri called for Jews all over the world to return to Israel because of the calamities about to befall the Earth and for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. "In the future, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will bring about great disasters in the countries of the world to sweeten the judgments of the land of Israel," he said.

In 1990, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson told Kaduri that he would live to see the coming of the Messiah. Also in September 2005, Kaduri said: "The Messiah is already in Israel. Whatever people are sure will not happen is liable to happen, and whatever we are certain will happen may disappoint us. But in the end, there will be peace throughout the world."

As a lifelong student and teacher of kabbalah, Kaduri rejected a meeting requested by pop superstar Madonna, who dabbled in the ancient art of Jewish mysticism. He reportedly said at the time: "It is forbidden to teach a non-Jew kabbalah, not even Talmud, not even simple Torah."

Kaduri is said to have been one of the few known living practitioners who used his knowledge of kabbalah to affect change in the world. He would often distribute amulets intended to heal, enhance fertility and bring success. He was also believed to have been involved in the removal of 20 dybbuks, or lost souls that strayed into the hapless bodies of living people to torment them.

Aviel Schneider, the author of the Israel Today story, said the worldwide reaction to news of Kaduri's note has been "crazy." He said he has never received so many emails and calls from around the globe. He said he was urged not to publish the story by the rabbi's yeshiva, where officials said it was "impossible" that the note was actually written by Kaduri.

But Schneider was given access to many of the rabbi's manuscripts, written in his own hand for the exclusive use of his students. He was struck by symbols painted by Kaduri all over the pages. "They were crosses," said Schneider. "In the Jewish tradition, you don't use crosses. You don't even use plus signs because they might be mistaken for crosses. But there they were, painted in his own hand." Asked what those symbols meant, Kaduri's family said they were "signs of the angel."

US Ambassador Jones: 'Be Happy We Didn't Execute Pollard'


Jonathan Pollard supporters are enraged at US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones for his remarks Monday morning, implying that Pollard committed treason or sold US secrets to Israel. Speaking at a conference at Bar Ilan University on Israeli-American relations, Jones said, "Pollard took money and sold out his country... The fact that he wasn't executed shows that he was treated mercifully."

"Malicious incitement against both Jonathan and Israel" is how an infuriated Esther Pollard, Jonathan's wife, described it. For one thing," she told Arutz-7, "the U.S. has no death penalty for the charge on which Jonathan was accused or convicted. It has a death penalty only for treason - and Jones knows that Jonathan was never accused of treason. It is merely because Israel seems to have abandoned its agent in the field that the American Ambassador feels he can get away with talking like this."

"And where is Israel?!" she asked. "How can it be that the US Ambassador says that an Israeli agent deserved to be executed, and Israel is silent?!

"The ambassador's remarks fly in the face of former CIA director James Woolsey's opinion that Jonathan should be released already," Mrs. Pollard said. "He is also contradicting former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who said that the charges against him were inflated to begin with."

At the same time, a new grassroots campaign is underway to "express the nation's desire" to see Jonathan Pollard home - via bumper stickers. The organizers hope to "stick" 100,000 cars. To participate in the campaign, send email to ""

The Milky Way Remains Kosher


The Mars chocolate company has agreed to remove an animal-based substance from its popular products following protests from vegetarians and concerns that it would violate Jewish dietary laws.

Mars began using rennet, which is made from the membrane of the stomach of calves, in its Snickers, Milky Way and Twix products. The Israeli rabbinate questioned whether the product would be certified kosher, and vegetarians in England raised a storm. "We made a mistake. We apologize," said the company.

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