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Rabbi Hurt in Circumcision Mishap

By Israel Faxx News Services

A noted Israeli rabbi, Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, was injured in a circumcision accident.

Eliashiv, leader of the powerful Lithuanian religious movement, served as godfather at a Jerusalem brit but suffered a deep cut to his hand, apparently when the mohel slipped. The 97-year-old sage received stitches and was declared well. The baby was unharmed.

Participants at the brit agreed not to publish the mohel's name for fear of harming his business. He was widely assumed to have been nervous because of the eminent Eliashiv's presence.

Abbas Calls for the Overthrow of Hamas

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for the overthrow of Hamas, the Islamic terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip. The call was made during a crackdown by Hamas against journalists and members of the rival Fatah faction in Gaza.

Just days after Hamas fired on a large crowd commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Yasir Arafat, Abbas, Arafat's successor, told Palestinians the time has come to overthrow Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

He said Palestinians are suffering under Hamas rule in Gaza, and the group should be removed - by force if necessary, adding that Hamas rule gives Israel the excuse it needs to continue what he described as its siege against the Palestinians.

It is the first time the Palestinian president has directly called for the overthrow of Hamas. Previously he has said only that Hamas should apologize for its rebellion against his Fatah forces in June, when Hamas seized control of Gaza.

Hamas militants have expanded their crackdown following the violence surrounding Monday's march in Gaza City. The Hamas interior minister said from now on there would be restrictions on public gatherings and political rallies.

Hamas has also detained several journalists, saying reporters who wish to work in Gaza must apply for Hamas-issued press cards. The move has been criticized by the Israel-based Foreign Press Association, which calls the order harassment, and said Hamas has recently engaged in a policy of intimidation against Palestinian journalists working in Gaza.

PA Terrorists Fire Rockets at Israel


Once again, two Kassam rockets were fired at the western Negev - near Sderot and Kfar Maimon - Thursday morning. No one was hurt, and no damage was reported. Another rocket was fired Wednesday night, two more Wednesday morning, three on Tuesday night - and seven on Monday.

The Knesset voted Wednesday to approve the preliminary reading of a bill to exact the cost of rocket damages from the Palestinian Authority. By a 37-23 majority, and in opposition to the coalition's stance, the Knesset approved the legislative proposal of Knesset members Yisrael Hasson of the coalition's Yisrael Beiteinu party and Limor Livnat (Likud). Among the supporters of the bill were Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman and Minister of Pensioners Affairs Rafi Eitan.

Israel collects certain customs duties for the Palestinian Authority, and it is from this money that the damages are to be collected. Portions of the PA's electricity debts have sometimes been collected from these sums.

Livnat and Hasson explained in the introduction to the bill, "The Palestinian Authority has not met its obligations, but despite this we continue to transfer the tax monies to it. Given the refusal of the Attorney General to allow us to reduce electricity to the PA in response to Kassam rocket attacks; we have no other tool by which to impose sanctions upon those who do not stop firing on us."

Missionary Activity in Sderot


Increased Jesuit missionary activity has been initiated in Kassam-besieged Sderot over the past two weeks, local residents said.

On the backdrop of Kassams exploding into the small city of Sderot, the mostly working-class population is now facing yet another danger: missionary activity. One resident said, "They are taking advantage of the difficulties here and trying to convert us to their beliefs."

Herzl Shayubi, who served until recently as Deputy Mayor of Sderot, told Arutz-7, "You can see that they have become very active here of late, with large signs about repentance and door-to-door activity with their Bibles and materials... In one case, I physically stopped one of them when I saw what he was giving out."

Moshe Malka, an activist of the Yad L'Achim anti-missionary organization who has family living in Sderot, said, "The missionaries - most of them 'Messianic Jews' - often show up to the weekly market day, marketing their destructive wares... Many of the residents say that the missionaries are taking advantage of their difficult situation to try to entice them to join their services - and it really appears that they have targeted Sderot.

"For instance, around the country they give out cheap editions of the New Testament, but here in Sderot they have been giving out a very fancy edition, with a very beautiful gold and black binding and gold-edged pages. I went into some houses to show them the book and ask if they've ever seen one like it - and they say, 'Sure, someone once gave us this' and they pull it out of their libraries. The missionaries simply prey on the ignorant and the weak."

Malka said the plight of the residents is very much in evidence: "For instance, on the weekly market day, there used to be four or five rows of people selling their stuff, and now there's only one row. On every street you see many houses for rent or for sale. It looks like a ghost town."

Yad L'Achim has stepped up its anti-missionary activity in Sderot, Malka said: "We have been going door-to-door ourselves, and we're in contact with the yeshivat hesder there, and with the local Beit Chabad, and we stand at intersections, etc. We would like to hold a public session in some protected building in order to explain the dangers..."

Avi Ben-Abu, a local grocery store owner, told Yad L'Achim, "It is unacceptable for missionaries to take advantage of our difficult plight and put salt on our wounds by leading innocent Jews astray."

Second Century Roman Road, Bath Unearthed Near Site of Jerusalem Temple

By Reuters

Israeli archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a second century terraced street and bath house which provide vital clues about the layout of Roman Jerusalem.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said the 30-meter (90-foot) alley was used by the Romans to link the central Cardo thoroughfare with a bath house and with a bridge to the Temple Mount, once the site of Jerusalem's ancient Jewish temple.

"We find bits of Roman road all the time but this discovery helped us piece together a picture of Roman Jerusalem," said Jerusalem regional archaeologist Jon Seligman. "It was a real Eureka moment."

The Romans razed the second Jewish Temple during the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 CE but later built a colony in the area, and called it Aelia Capitolina.

Archaeologists say the street is remarkably well preserved. After clearing away mounds of earth, workers are painstakingly restoring the alley, which runs between walls of ashlar stone and is paved with large flagstones.

The remains of the street, which now runs below a sewage channel and offices belonging to the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, will form part of Jerusalem's Western Wall tunnel tours for visitors.

Archaeologists also discovered the outside wall of a large building which they believe was a Roman bath house because of the latrines outside and pipes which appear to have operated an under-floor heating system. Excavation on this site will begin shortly.

The Antiquities Authority said the discovery of the alley, a stone's throw from the Western Wall, may add weight to the theory that the Temple Mount complex was a focal point of Roman life even after the destruction of the temple itself.

The complex is also revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and houses Islam's third-holiest mosque, making it Jerusalem's most contested site and giving it a pivotal role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Seligman said the newly-discovered alley once led to an important bridge over a ravine known during the time of Jesus as the Valley of the Cheese makers.

Hebrew, But Not Israelis, Popular in Egypt

By Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)

I once took a taxi in Cairo with an Egyptian colleague. As soon as we got in my friend, who had been talking to me in Hebrew until then, switched to Arabic and insisted I do the same. Recently he told me that he didn't want the driver to charge us the foreign tourist fare but the much lower local fare.

Many young people in Egypt study and speak Hebrew. Every year around 2,000 Egyptian students enroll in Hebrew courses. Some 500 Hebrew students graduate annually. All the universities in Cairo, including the Muslim Al-Azhar University, and a number in other parts of the country, totaling eight universities, teach Hebrew.

Hebrew-speakers in Egypt can serve in military intelligence (Egypt has one year of compulsory military service). They can also find jobs in one of several civilian institutions such as the broadcasting authority - which has Hebrew-language television broadcasts and a radio station - newspapers, strategic research institutes and translation centers.

In the past Egyptians would study Hebrew to "know your enemy." Munir Mahmoud, 47, a well-known Hebrew teacher, said that after President Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel the attitude toward studying Hebrew changed. High school graduates began thinking of a career associated with Hebrew, not only of military or security service.

Mahmoud, who is also a tour guide, helped set up the Hebrew department at Xceed, an Egyptian company providing services to Microsoft, located in a high-tech area near Cairo. The smart village was founded by the communications minister at the time, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.

Xceed operates a registration center for Microsoft products. Israelis phoning to register Microsoft programs they bought are directed here, where Hebrew-speaking Egyptian telephone operators pick up their calls. "We were afraid university graduates wouldn't be up to the challenge because they are not familiar with everyday Hebrew. None of them has Jewish parents or visited Israel. But they gained experience quickly," says Mahmoud.

Like many others, Mahmoud is keenly interested in what's going on in Israel. But the political situation and atmosphere in Egypt, as well as the desire for solidarity with the Palestinians, prohibit Egyptians from satisfying their curiosity and visiting Israel or maintaining ties with Israelis.

Although he could gain much from Israeli tourism, Mahmoud believes that as long as there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians it would not be appropriate to strengthen Israeli-Egyptian ties. "It's a question of balance. Egypt, like the rest of the Arab world, must have bargaining chips when it deals with Israel," he says.

When an Israeli friend plans to visit Egypt, the Hebrew-speaking Egyptians ask for certain books. Although the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo or the Israeli embassy would be glad to help, they prefer that a private Israeli citizen bring the books rather than an official.

A friend of mine who makes a living from Israeli tourism always starts our conversations with "Hey, bro, wassup?" Sometimes he resorts to literary Hebrew after that.

Egyptian Hebrew students rarely visit the Israeli Academic Center, founded in the 1980s as part of the efforts to forge academic and cultural ties between the two countries. Egypt had undertaken to open a similar center in Israel, but did not do so. Every few weeks an Israeli writer, poet or researcher visits the center. Egyptian students use the library and staff for their papers. When I visited the center I met students who were writing papers on Hannah Szenes and Yitzhak Laor.

"It's worth their while to come here. We have the best Hebrew library in Egypt," says center director Dr. Gabi Rosenbaum, a scholar of Egyptian culture and translator from Arabic.

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