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Israel: H5N1 Bird Flu Strain Found at Kindergarten Zoo

By VOA News

Israeli health authorities said Thursday that they have found the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in dead chickens at a kindergarten petting zoo in the northern town of Binyamina.

Tests confirmed they were infected with the virus that is potentially lethal to humans. Authorities are checking for other bird flu outbreaks within a six-mile radius of the kindergarten.

In 2006 Israel culled more than one million chickens and turkeys 2006 after the H5N1 virus infected poultry at several communal farms. Migratory birds are thought to have spread the virus from Asia to the Middle East and Europe.

Katyusha Lands Past Ashkelon


A 122 mm Katyusha missile landed near a hotel north of Ashkelon Thursday, marking the farthest a missile or rocket has been fired from Gaza thus far.

The Grad-type Katyusha missile slammed into an area near a hotel north of Ashkelon, one of Israel's largest cities. The missile landed near an area where Jews evicted from Gaza during the 2005 Disengagement have been living in caravan homes. No injuries were reported.

Katyusha rockets were widely used by Hizbullah to bombard northern Israel during the Second Lebanon War. They have already in the past been fired toward Ashkelon and Eilat, but have not yet come into wide use. The longer-range rockets place hundreds of thousands of Israelis under fire, in addition to those already living around Gaza.

Knesset member Tzvi Hendel (National Union) asked "Where are the hypocrites who justified the expulsion by saying the country had to protect the lives of [Gush Katif] residents?" he said. "I am sorry to say that the day the Prime Minister will bear responsibility for bloodshed is not far away. The IDF must conduct a massive ground operation in Gaza until the entire terrorist infrastructure is completely destroyed."

Netanyahu: 1948 Borders Mean Missiles in All of Israel

By &

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday that if Israel were to retreat to the 1948 armistice line, terrorists in Judea and Samaria would be able to attack every city in Israel with rockets. Terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket with a range of 20 kilometers on Thursday morning, he said.

"If Hamas fires a rocket with a range of 12.5 miles from Judea and Samaria, it will hit Dizengoff Center (one of Tel Aviv's most popular commercial shopping hubs)," warned Netanyahu.

"[Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak say the state needs to return to the 1967 borders," Netanyahu said. "It is clear to them that if we leave Judea and Samaria, every single part of the land will be under a barrage of rockets."

Netanyahu accused Olmert and Barak of employing a "blind and amateurish" policy that "has already brought the residents of the Galilee and Haifa under Katyusha fire and has brought Ashkelon – and next Ashdod – and eventually Tel Aviv – into the range of fire."

Rabbi Reportedly Wants Olmert Hanged

By Israel Faxx News Services &

A right-wing Israeli rabbi drew censure after calling for Ehud Olmert and other government leaders to be executed.

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a leading Chabad rabbi in Israel, was shown on television Wednesday addressing an SOS Israel demonstration against the Olmert government's peace moves with the Palestinian Authority.

"The terrible traitor, Ehud Olmert, who gives these Nazis weapons, who gives money, who frees their murderous terrorists, this man, like Ariel Sharon, collaborates with the Nazis," Wolpe said in his speech.

He added that the prime minister, Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak would be "hung from the gallows" were Israel run properly.

Israeli opposition leader Binyamin lambasted the remarks, which apparently were heard without protest by several religious lawmakers who attended the rally.

Ramon in a statement said Wolpe's behavior recalled the incitement that led to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Yoel Hasson, a lawmaker with Olmert's Kadima party, said he would ask Israel's attorney general to take legal steps against Wolpe.

Knesset member Chaim Oron (Meretz) noted that SOS Israel was founded by Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim, of whom Rabbi Wolpe is one, Oron called for a blanket ban on all Chabad activists entering IDF bases. IDF commanders often grant Chabad volunteers access to military bases and outposts so that the Chassidim can distribute holiday-related items and perform certain religious rituals with soldiers who are interested.

Wolpe said Thursday that the speech he gave was twisted and taken out of context. When he said that Olmert, Ramon, Livni and other members of the government would be hung, he was not calling for vigilante violence, he said, but rather calling on the police to implement the law.

Rabbi Wolpe wrote a clarification, explaining that he believes violence against a fellow Jew is unacceptable, but that law enforcement has the right and responsibility to enforce the law.

One of Israel's laws prohibits providing assistance to Nazis, he said, and Muslim terrorist groups are the Nazis of our day. If the government provides terrorists with aid, the government has violated the law, and must suffer the consequences, which include the death penalty. Wolpe emphasized that he was calling for any such punishments to be carried out in a legal manner.

Knesset member Chaim Oron (Meretz) noted that SOS Israel was founded by Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim, of whom Rabbi Wolpe is one, Oron called for a blanket ban on all Chabad activists entering IDF bases. IDF commanders often grant Chabad volunteers access to military bases and outposts so that the Chassidim can distribute holiday-related items and perform certain religious rituals with soldiers who are interested.

Israeli Arabs: Count Us Out of Palestinian State


If given the option of living in a future Palestinian state, most Israeli Arabs would prefer to remain citizens of Israel, according to a new survey released this week.

Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's population, with a large concentration living in eastern Jerusalem, including in peripheral neighborhoods Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government has stated could be given to the Palestinians for a future state.

Last month, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni hinted Israeli Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem could remain there and be ruled by a new Palestinian state.

"The future Palestinian state would serve as a national solution for the Palestinians of the West Bank, those living in the refugee camps and those who are citizens with equal rights in the Jewish state," stated Livni at a November press conference with France's foreign minister.

But a new poll conducted by Keevoon, an Israeli research and strategic communications company, found the majority of Israeli Arabs – 62 percent – don't want to live under Palestinian rule.

Only 14 percent of respondents said they would prefer to live in a Palestinian state and not Israel if given the choice, while 24 percent did not express an opinion or refused to answer.

Mitchell Barak, managing director of Keevoon, told WND, "The survey challenges the widely held claim that Israeli Arabs have national aspirations for statehood. Most expressed a desire to remain Israeli when given a choice."

Barak said the results "also demonstrated a gap between policies articulated by the Israeli government and the citizens it would affect most – Israeli Arabs."

"While senior members of the government here, including Livni, have spoken openly about a future Palestinian state possibly including Israeli Arabs who live in Israel, most Israeli Arabs prefer to remain Israeli citizens," Barak said.

Keevoon's survey found the strongest support for remaining citizens of Israel was exhibited by members of the Druze Arab community, 84 percent of whom rejected the notion of living in a Palestinian state. Lower-income Arab households also showed strong support, with 71 percent choosing Israel.

The strongest support for becoming citizens of a future Palestinian state was demonstrated by Arab students, with 21 percent, compared to the overall average of 14 percent, according to the poll.

The survey was conducted about a month after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert committed at November's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit to aim at concluding an agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by next year. The Jewish state is widely expected to evacuate swaths of the strategic West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, handing the territories to Abbas for a Palestinian state.

Israeli officials in recent months listed specific eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods Israel may evacuate. In a speech in early November, Olmert asked whether it was "really necessary" to retain certain Arab neighborhoods in the eastern parts of Judaism's capital city.

"Was it necessary to also add the Shuafat refugee camp, Sawakra, Walaje and other villages and define them as part of Jerusalem? On that, I must confess, I am not convinced," stated Olmert, speaking at a special Knesset session.

Just this week, Olmert indicated Jerusalem could be split, stating in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that the world that is "friendly" to Israel insists on dividing the city.

Previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, including U.S.-mediated talks at Camp David in 2000, agreed to sections of Jerusalem being split according to population demographics, with Israeli Arab neighborhoods becoming part of a Palestinian state.

After Annapolis, Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon stated any future division of Jerusalem would be mapped out along the same lines. "We must come today and say, friends, the Jewish neighborhoods [of Jerusalem], including Har Homa, will remain under Israeli sovereignty, and the Arab neighborhoods will be the Palestinian capital, which they will call Jerusalem or whatever they want," Ramon said.

Since Annapolis, Israeli media reports marked an increase in Israeli Arab clients enlisting Jerusalem real estate companies to relocate to Jewish sections of Jerusalem.

Would-be Chabad Convert Turned Down


A young Israeli from the former Soviet Union who wished to convert to Judaism was turned down recently after he told a rabbinic court that he believes former Chabad leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to be the messiah. While some rabbinic judges were prepared to convert the young man, at least one refused to take part in the proceedings.

The case will be brought before Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in the near future. An estimated several thousand Chabad chassidim believe that Rabbi Schneerson, who passed away in 1994, is the messiah.

London-Tel Aviv Airline Takes Off as Fares Hurtle Down


British Midland Airways has announced it will launch a daily flight service from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to Heathrow starting March 13th 2008. At the present time only two companies – British Airways and El Al – maintain the line, along with charter subsidiaries Israir, Sandor Airlines, Thomsonfly and Arkia.

According to BMI an economy-class seat will cost $497 while a business-class ticket will cost around $1,230, including taxes. The daily flight to Heathrow will leave Ben Gurion Airport at 7:15 a.m. and the return flight will leave Heathrow at 12:55 p.m.

Israeli travel agents warned travelers that while the prices may drop, there is a chance that so will the quality of service in the long term. Furthermore, said the agents, the addition of two separate service providers for the Tel Aviv-London line – Thomsonfly, that launched in November and now BMI – is unwarranted considering the relatively low number of tourists using the line.

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